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More Grace for the Daily Grind

More Grace for the Daily Grind

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More Grace for the Daily Grind

685 pagine
6 ore
May 24, 2010


More Grace for the Daily Grind is a collection of articles originally titled Up Close and Practical written by Larry Briney. They were written for the congregation of Valley Christian Center in Fresno, California. In 1986 Larry joined the staff and began writing for the weekly bulletin. That was over 23 years and more than 1200 articles ago.

May 24, 2010

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More Grace for the Daily Grind - Larry Briney



More Grace for the Daily Grind is the second collection of articles originally written for the congregation of Valley Christian Center in Fresno, California. In 1986 began writing for the weekly bulletin. That was over 23 years and more than 1200 articles ago.

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and humbled by the trust and encouragement from the congregation to continue. The leadership of the church has released me to compile this work.

I’m extremely grateful to Noriko Warnes and Shannon Davis for their help in the proofing process.



More Grace for the Daily Grind is intended to be a daily resource for Christians to deepen their devotional walk with the Lord.

The common theme of the book is a sense of wonder, the wonder of God’s nature, the wonder of His grace, the wonder of His creation, the wonder of words, and the amazing wonder of daily life itself. God is doing something in each one of our days.

I’ve taken Habakkuk 1:5 NKJV quite literally. It says, Look among the nations and watch — Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.

More Grace for the Daily Grind follows the calendar with respect to holidays, special days, and seasons. It is submitted with the prayer that it will bring glory and honor to Jesus Christ and give helpful insight into the daily wonder of God’s marvelous grace.

I have prayed for each page of this book that the God of the Bible, revealed in flesh in Jesus Christ, may lovingly speak to you in these pages, and that you may grow into His likeness a bit more every grace-filled day. Scripture portions will appear in italics. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NASB, New American Standard Bible.

He gives more grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble… Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:6-8 NKJV



January 1

Cornfield Maturity

The Plains Indians in early America had a fascinating method for determining the maturity of a future princess in their tribe. The candidate would be given a basket and led to a cornfield.

Her assignment was to go down a long row of tall corn and choose the five best ears of corn. She couldn’t take any out of her basket once they were chosen, nor could she retrace her steps or run ahead.

She had to make a choice as she went by each ear of corn about its comparative value. If she reached the end of the row and the judges determined that she had chosen well, she was considered mature enough to be a princess among them.

That’s essentially what we’re called to do as we enter a new year. As we go through each moment of every day, we’re to choose what is best in that moment. We can’t put any of the minutes and hours back where they came from; we can’t retrace our steps and we can’t run ahead to compare tomorrow’s offering with today’s.

It’s not as easy as it may seem to do what a princess-to-be was asked to do. It required knowledge of what’s good and what’s bad. But it would often not be so cut-and-dried as that. She would also have to discern what may be good, but not the best.

Joshua 24:15 KJV says, Choose you this day whom ye will serve. The reality of our lives is that we are called upon to choose every day who we will serve.

In view of this, to make the best choices in each moment – that’s maturity. Tomorrow, another challenge of mature choices.


January 2

Lighthouse Maturity

A lighthouse keeper along a dangerous coast was given enough oil for one month and told to keep the light burning every night. One day a woman asked for oil so that her children could stay warm. Then a farmer came. His son needed oil for a lamp so he could read. Another needed some for an engine.

The keeper saw each as a worthy request and gave some oil to satisfy all. By the end of the month, the tank in the lighthouse was dry. That night the beacon was dark, and three ships crashed on the rocks. More than one hundred lives were lost.

The lighthouse keeper was brought before an inquiry. He explained what he had done and why. But the prosecutor replied, You were given only one task: to keep the light burning. Every other thing was secondary. You have no excuse.

Temptation is most often thought of as a choice between good and evil. But perhaps more difficult is the challenge of choosing between good options. The lighthouse keeper in the story found himself in such a conflict.

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the stories of the wise and foolish virgins and the wise and foolish stewards. In each case the challenge was to make choices like the princess and the lighthouse keeper were called upon to make.

They were to choose between the best and the good. And they didn’t have all year to make up their minds. They had to do it in real time, so to speak. And so must we all.

In the parables of the Ten Virgins and the Three Stewards in Matthew 25, the ones who chose well were rewarded with these words from the master:

Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master. Matthew 25:21


January 3

Embrace Change

It’s the nature of all living things to change. As a matter of biological fact, organic change distinguishes living things from dead things. If it’s alive – it changes, and it changes many times in its lifecycle.

The Church of Jesus Christ is a living thing. The Holy Spirit of God dwells in the temple that we form by common devotion to Jesus. But until that temple looks like Him, talks like Him, and acts like Him we must change.

Change is often uncomfortable; even good change is disruptive. It forces us to adjust to different schedules and new experiences. It has always been so.

100 years ago the clerk of a church outside of Philadelphia, gave five attitudes about change that he had noted:

1. The early innovators (2.6%), they eagerly run with new ideas.

2. The early adaptors (13.4%), influenced but not initiators.

3. Slow Majority (34%), the herd-followers.

4. Reluctant Majority (34%) the feet-draggers.

5. Antagonistic (16%), they will never change

The last group plagues most churches. They wish to maintain the status quo, whatever it is. Professor Howard Hendrix has noted that there are three stages people go through when confronted with change:

1. Resistance to change.

2. Tolerant of change.

3. Embrace the change.

Change is happening as we speak. Where do you find yourself in the three stages of change? Are you resistant? Are you tolerant? Or do you embrace the changes that are occurring?



January 4

Double Standard

The writer of the Book of Hebrews, in giving instructions to the church for these last days, says this in 10:23-25:

Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep His promise… And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of His coming back again is drawing near. NLT

I wonder just how we’re doing in response to these admonitions. When it comes to that word about not neglecting our meeting together, the appropriate response would be to click our heels sharply, snap off a crisp salute and say, Yes Sir, to the Lord of the church. But reality is often otherwise.

What if we applied the same standard of faithfulness to other things that we routinely accept to our spiritual commitments? For instance, if your car started one out of three times, would it be considered faithful?

If your refrigerator just quit working a day or so now and then, would you excuse it by saying, Oh well, it works most of the time? If the water heater greets you in the shower with cold water two mornings a week, would it be faithful?

Obviously, we have a double standard if we think that faithfulness to God is anything less than what is expected in these mundane examples. I don’t wish to project a legalistic element into our attendance at the meetings of the body; I just want to take a look at what it means to be faithful.

We look forward, with great joy, to hearing those words, Well done, good and faithful servant, but we won’t hear them unless we have done well and been good and faithful.


January 5

Good and Faithful

Good and faithful – Jesus said. The good part takes care of morality issues. But the faithful part refers to choices we make to keep doing what Christians do.

Loving one another is what Christians do. Caring for the weak and feeding the hungry is what Christians do. Sharing our resources is what Christians do. And getting together often for worship and the Word is what Christians do.

When we first came to Fresno over 23 years ago, I was impressed with this city’s zeal for the Fresno State Bulldogs football team. I thought the following hypothetical situation might be appropriate.

It’s called, Twelve Reasons Why I Stopped Attending Bulldog Football Games.

* Every time I went, they asked for money.

* The people didn’t seem very friendly.

* The seats were too hard.

* The coach never even knew I was there.

* The referee made decisions with which I could not agree.

* There were hypocrites who only came to see the uniforms.

* Some games went into overtime, and I was late getting home.

* The band played songs I didn’t know.

* The games are scheduled when I want to do other things.

* My parents took me to too many games when I was a kid.

* I read a book on football and I know more than the coach does.

* I don’t want to take my children because I want them to choose for themselves what sport they like best when they grow up.

Enough said!


January 6

The Work of the Ministry

But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant. II Timothy 4:5, The Message

The Apostle Paul wrote these words to Timothy who was doing the work of the ministry in Ephesus. The city of Ephesus was not a friendly place for Christians in the First Century. It was a center of persecution and the martyrdom of the saints.

The work of the ministry was a life and death matter for Timothy, and it still is for those who understand the call of God upon their lives for ministry in these troubled times.

The standard joke about ministers is – when are you going to get a real job? Well, I can tell you truthfully, the ministry is a real job. For those who take it seriously, it’s a 24/7 concern. It is, more that any other job – a life.

I rise to honor those servants of God among us who do take the work of the ministry seriously. There are many who touch lives in Jesus’ name every day who do the work of the ministry and do it very well.

I’ve done many other things to earn money but none has captivated my heart like the work of the ministry. I’ve often said to fellow pastors that we aren’t paid to minister—we’re freed to minister and give ourselves fully to serve God and His people for as long as it takes because we don’t have to work at another job.

There are things that the work of the ministry calls for that one could not be paid enough to do, if that was your motivation. On the other hand, there are lots of things in the work of the ministry that one would do gladly if there were no compensation, and you’d even pay somebody for the privilege of doing them.


January 7

The Ministry of Work

I remember the story of the little girl who, in the process of growing up, discovered that more than anything else she wanted to be able to mow the lawn. But each season she was told that she was too young.

The great day came when her parents decided that, at last, she was old enough to do the job. She did it with surprising skill and great delight, and having finished her work she began to cast long, envious glances across the fence at the neighbor’s lawn, which also needed mowing.

The neighbor, seeing her interest, said, Sally, how would you like to mow my lawn? And the little girl enthusiastically said, Yes. Well, let’s see… how about $3.00? said the neighbor.

Sally’s face fell, and she turned away, shaking her head. What’s the matter? asked the neighbor. Sally said, I only have $2.00.

Serving Jesus is a delightful way to live. Caring for His people is a sacred trust that cannot be done without His Spirit and His heart for the work of the ministry. (I’ve used that phrase a lot because I want to communicate that the ministry is a high and holy calling – and it is work.)

Whatever it is that you do for a living, the admonition of Paul in II Timothy 4:5 applies to you and is worth repeating:

Keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant. The Message



January 8

Keep Looking Up

Solomon often drew lessons from God’s marvelous creation. In Proverbs 30 he talks about lessons learned from eagles and serpents, ants and spiders, lions and rabbits, and more.

I invite you to consider buzzards, bats and bumble bees. We can learn a lot from these critters.

If you put a buzzard in a pen six or eight feet square and entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of his ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner.

The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of ten or twelve feet. Without that much space to run, he won’t even try to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.

The ordinary bat that flies around at night is a remarkably nimble creature in the air, but it can’t take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then it takes off like a flash.

A bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler will be there until it dies unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.

Lots of people are like the buzzard, the bat and the bumble bee. They are struggling about all their problems and frustrations, not realizing that if they look up, they’ll find the answer.

Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high. Psalm 113:5 NIV

I am going to send you what my Father has promised (the Holy Spirit); but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high. Luke 24:49 NIV


January 9

Sin Is Stupid

Picture this: a man sets out to plant several rows of sweet corn. He places the seeds carefully into the ground. He waters them; he is careful to protect the little sprouts that emerge. He has visions of sitting down to a sumptuous meal feasting on delicious ears of warm yellow sweet corn.

But as the sprouts begin to mature, he realizes that something isn’t quite right. It’s not turning out the way he expected. To his utter dismay, he discovers that he has raised a bumper crop of smelly skunk cabbage.

He gives himself a slap on the side of his head and exclaims, How could I have been so stupid? I thought I had planted corn but I got a crop of smelly skunk cabbage.

That’s how it is with sin. Here’s what the Creator of all things that grow says about the way the system works:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction… Galatians 6:7, 8 NIV

The problem today is that nobody thinks it’s stupid to plant seeds that will reap a harvest of destruction. No one is slapping themselves on the head declaring their obvious stupidity.

In fact, it’s the opposite idea in most people’s minds. They think it’s really smart to please the sinful nature. And when the reaping starts they blame someone else for the results of their stupid planting. Go figure. And if you actually do figure – you’ll come to the conclusion that sin is, in fact, stupid.


January 10

After Their Kind

Family farms may be a vanishing breed in our culture since mega agri-corporations produce most of the food we eat. But you can learn something from a farmer.

There are three things that all farmers know about sowing and reaping, and their living and their lives depend on these laws.

Law #1 - You will ALWAYS reap WHAT you sow. Here’s the thing: if you sowed it – you’ll reap it. You won’t plant beans and reap bananas. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:12 NKJV

Law #2 - You will ALWAYS reap MORE than you sow. A mere handful of seed yields bushels of harvest. If this were not true, no farmer could survive one growing season. This is good news if you plant good seed, bad news if you plant bad seed. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Matthew 13:8 NIV

Law #3 - You will ALWAYS reap LATER than you sow. It takes a while for the harvest to come. That’s why sinning doesn’t seem stupid at the time, and why doing good things doesn’t always seem smart at the time. "Let us fear the LORD our God, who gives rain… in his season: He reserves to us the appointed weeks of the harvest." Jeremiah 5:24 NKJV

So, if you want a life in which good things grow, it’s just smart to live for Jesus and plant good seeds. And it’s not smart (to put it kindly) to live a life of sin for yourself – the bad seeds will come up after their kind.


January 11

No Seed – No Fruit

Where have all the flowers gone? They’ve gone to seed, that’s where. And that’s good news. No seed – no fruit. Today, let’s talk about conception and birth. And when you think about it, we’re talking about the same process of seed to fruit.

After the marvelous mystery moment, for a husband and wife, when life is conceived, nothing changes for a while. It will be months before anyone notices, but mama is pregnant with renewal. Unless a miscarriage or an abortion cuts short the life conceived, it is just a matter of time until a baby is born.

What can abort the life of a new seed-thing in the Church? One thing and only one thing — SIN. Sin in the life of God’s people is as deadly as it is in the life of an unbeliever. It kills the life of God in us.

Everything God does begins in the hidden place in us, and that’s where sin lives, too. It’s at that level where the abortion takes place. Only repentance and the cleansing blood of Jesus can kill the sin and insure that the seed of life will grow. Then when the blossoming seed becomes evident, we take heart because we know His life is still in us.

But the flower is the promise of birth and not the birth. It’s the substance of things hoped for; evidence of things not seen. In fact, the flower must fade for the seed to emerge.

God actually causes the flower to fade that the process of renewal may proceed. Consider this from Isaiah 40:6-8 NKJV:

All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it… but the word of our God stands forever.

God has set Himself to do mighty things among us. But when renewal takes longer than we think it should, we wonder, where have all the flowers gone? Take heart; they’ve gone to seed. And that’s good news.


January 12

Whine Or Shine I

Recently I was jolted to reality concerning our culture and our place in it as Christians. I was reminded that we are exiles in this land, "Our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ." Philippians 3:20 NIV

Then Jesus answered, I am not an earthly king. If I were, my followers would have fought when I was arrested by the Jewish leaders, but my Kingdom is not of this world. John 18:36 NLT

That’s different from the prevailing idea that our nation is basically Christian, and we’re losing the battle to save our culture from the ravages of secular humanism and creeping immorality. Is it our culture? Or is this reality: The whole world lies in the power of the evil one"? I John 5:19 NASB

We have a choice in this prevailing secular culture. When even the laws of the land are changing to accommodate the whims of evil men, we can choose to whine – or we can choose to shine!

In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing, so that no one can speak a word of blame against you.

You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people. Let your lives shine brightly before them. Philippians 2:14-15, NLT

Whine or shine, which will it be? You can’t do both. If you’re whining about the sad state of the culture, you’re not shining the light of Jesus’ love where it’s needed. And if you’re shining – you won’t be whining.

Some of us are news junkies. We like to be in on the latest events in the world. I get the latest news on my computer and on radio and television. I want to be well informed.

But I’ve discovered that I can’t truly be well informed until I know what God says about things. And He has a lot to say about how we should conduct ourselves in these times.


January 13

Whine Or Shine II

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 KJV

Notice that Jesus did not say, let your light shine – so men may hear your good words. Our words, however impassioned, will not affect this culture. But our good works can.

John Piper says this: The greatness of Christians in exile is not success but service… We don’t own culture, and we don’t rule it. We serve it with brokenhearted joy and longsuffering mercy, for the good of man and the glory of Jesus Christ.

The lesson of the conquest of Jericho is that there’s a time to shout, but there’s also a time to be silent and keep moving forward. For six days the people marched around the city in utter silence. The seventh day they shouted.

I think I know why God said be silent. It’s probably because if they talked, they would whine about how thick the walls were, or how few weapons they had against such a foe, or how silly the whole exercise was.

The Church can lament the demise of our cultural focusing on the darkness. Then we become a Whinery, producing whiners. Instead the Church should be a Shinery, producing shiners.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news to any culture. When Jesus comes, all will be made right. But today it isn’t about pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by.

It’s about shine-in-the-dark-while-you’re-here!

So Shine! — This is a no whining zone.


January 14

Heart Lights I

I’m a lover of words. There’s a word for people like me, but I don’t remember it. I just like turning words around in my brain until they sink in.

It’s said that words are windows to the heart. If that’s true, then they should let some light in… right? Here are a few phrases that have lit up my heart.

• Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused.

• Bills travel faster through the mail than checks.

• Don't argue with an idiot. People watching may not be able to tell the difference.

• Football game: when 22 big, strong men run around like crazy for two hours while millions who really need the exercise sit and watch.

• Ham and eggs. A day’s work for a chicken, and a lifetime commitment for a pig.

• I signed up for an exercise class and was told to wear loose fitting clothing. If I had any loose fitting clothing, I wouldn't have signed up in the first place!

• I've gotten that dreaded Furniture Disease: Your chest is falling into your drawers.

• Men are from earth. Women are from earth. Deal with it.

• My husband says I never listen. At least I think that's what he said.

• The wages of sin is death. Repent before payday.

• The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything.


January 15

Are You Listening?

When the telegraph was the fastest means of communication, a young man applied for a job as a Morse code operator.

He went to the address listed in the ad and entered a large, noisy office. In the background a telegraph clacked away. A sign on the receptionist’s counter instructed job applicants to fill out a form and wait until they were summoned.

The young man completed his form and sat down with seven other applicants. After a few minutes, the young man stood up, went to the door of the inner office and walked right in.

Naturally the other applicants perked up, wondering what was going on. Why had this man been so bold?

They took some satisfaction in assuming the young man who went into the office would be reprimanded for his presumption and summarily disqualified for the job.

Within a few minutes the young man emerged from the inner office escorted by the employer, who announced to the other applicants, Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming, but the job has been filled by this young man.

The other applicants began grumbling, and one spoke up, Wait a minute – I don’t understand. He was the last one to come in, and we never even got a chance to be interviewed, yet he got the job. That’s not fair.

The employer responded, While you have sat there the telegraph has been ticking out the following message: ‘If you understand this message, then come right in. The job is yours.’

Here’s the picture: They were all in the same room, and everyone heard the same thing. But for some of them what they heard was just noise. Only one of them was listening, and he knew that there was a message in the noise to which he could respond.

Amid the noise of this day, God will be speaking to you.

Do you hear Him?


January 16

His Voice

The story of the telegraph operator reminds me of something Jesus said to His disciples in John chapter 10. He is talking to them earlier in the chapter about the false shepherd who came to steal, kill, and destroy.

Then He talks about the special relationship that exists between the Good Shepherd and His sheep.

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. John 10:27-29 NKJV

I wonder how many times I’ve heard noise and wasn’t listening for a message from my Shepherd embedded in it, to which I needed to respond. The world is a noisy place with so many voices begging for attention, and the devil’s voice is among them.

It seems to me that the answer is to know His voice and how He speaks to me. Then I’ll be able to discern the difference between His voice and all the noise of the world, my own flesh, and the devil. The world, my flesh, and the devil can say words that seem right at the time, but they don’t speak with the Shepherd’s voice.

It’s about knowing Him so intimately that I can tell if it’s Him or the voice of another.

Jesus does speak today, and – like the young man in the telegraph office heard – He has a job for you. Are you listening?


January 17

Sound Effects

Doctors in the old days tested the sanity of a mental patient with the following test:

The patient would be placed in a room with a sink. The faucet was turned on and its sound filled the room. A stopper was put in the drain until the sink began to overflow. The patient was then handed a mop and the door was closed.

If the patient had enough sense to shut off the water, pull the plug, and then mop up the water, he was considered capable of going home. But on the other hand, if the patient mopped like crazy and never bothered to shut off the water and pull the plug, he was considered still insane and needed to stay a little longer.

There are people in this world that are mopping like crazy – and they’re not in mental institutions. They’re people that we consider quite sane, but they haven’t figured out how to stop the flooding in their lives. They just keep mopping up the mess.

Whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap. For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. These well known axioms apply to more than farming and physics. They describe a universal law – cause and effect. Effects have causes – they don’t stand alone. Stop the cause and you stop the effect.

We spend way too much time mopping up effects when our time, energies, money, and prayers would be more fruitful if directed at causes. Herein lies wisdom, to discern one from the other.

The man or woman, who can separate cause from effect, action from reaction, will find it helpful in relationships, in business, and in their walk with the Lord.

Lord, help us to recognize the sound of effects, so we can stop the flooding.


January 18

More Sound Effects

We are told in Ephesians 6 that our battle is not with flesh and blood (effects), but with principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world (causes). KJV

Why not address the cause of disruption, destruction, and death, rather than waste our energies fighting the flesh and blood people who are affected by Satan’s power plays.

There’s good side to this cause and effect thing. If I desire a certain attribute or quality in my life, I need to find its cause and not waste time in pursuit of the thing I desire.

Romans 14:19 KJV commands us to follow after the things that make for peace. In other words, peace is the

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