I think if we met Jesus on the street today, most of us would be surprised. Because He was always surprising everyone around him: with what He did and what He said. He was unexpected. Which is a oddly comforting to me as I walk out this most-unexpected life of ours.

So I love to spend time talking to Him, listening to Him, and reading His words and the words in his amazing Book. I really love my particular Bible, which is NIV translation on one side, and Eugene Peterson’s The Message storytelling version on the other. I love looking at His words and actions from many angles. The black words below are NIV, the grey words are The Message.

Studying grace is one of the deepest things I’ve yet to study. God will take you through layer upon layer of meaning and relevance as you let Him. Here are a few of His words that have impacted me most on this journey.


Grace & Forgiveness

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others.
If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.

MATTHEW 6:14-15

This seems so crazy to me initially: God, did you really mean to be that extreme?

But the reality is that there are only two realms: the grace realm, and the justice realm. We can not live in grace for ourselves while imposing justice on others. And there is no middle ground.
Nothing, no wrong done to us, is worth being separated from God and not walking in freedom.

God is serious about grace.

A story about forgiveness.

And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking.
If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

MARK 11:25


Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do.
“I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

ROMANS 12:19


Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.
On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. 

1 PETER 3:8-9


And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Romans 8:28

Many dark days I have asked God about this verse – really? Every detail? And every single time, the answer has been yes. This blog is full of real life examples, just like this.


Reaping and Sowing

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.


Read this not to draw away our focus on to others or back to the justice realm; but to rejoice that there will be a harvest for us as we continue to choose real life and all the things He loves.