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     God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. Rom. 11:2-6

Holy Father, at least seventeen times a day I need to be reminded of how I got into your story of redemption and how I stay there. Occasionally I’m like Elijah, assuming I’m special to you because of something in me—as though my works, my zeal, my “wanna-be-righteousness”, my spiritual discipline, my suffering, my something give me credit and merit with you. What a foolish man I can be.

I can even turn “getting the gospel” into a meritorious work—as though I was smart enough, hip enough, or spiritual enough to be a member of an elite gospel club; acting as though I’m one of the few who really “gets” the gospel—no longer bowing the knee to performance-based spirituality, moralism, or legalism. What an arrogant man I can be, even about grace.

And then there are times when I know myself to be an idolater—not worshiping Baal, but worshiping almost anything or everything else, wondering how I could possibly be yours. Father, I know I fall short of your glory—sinning against you in word, through and deed, every single day… even every hour.

Then, like a rebuke or a kiss from heaven (depending on if I’m walking in pride or wallowing in shame), I hear the Holy Spirit speak these words to my heart, once again: “I have kept for myself . . .” As in the days before Elijah, during Elijah and long after Elijah, you’ve chosen by grace, and are preserving by grace, a much-loved people for yourself.

Many of them have Israeli passports, but most don’t. In fact, no nation or people group will be excluded from your family, so great is your covenant love. One Day, in the new heaven and new earth, your pan-national family will gather as one, and with one voice we will sing and shout, “Salvation is of the Lord! Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise. We are here alone by grace alone!”

      ”But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace” (Rom. 11:6). O, how thankful we are that grace is still grace, and will never be anything less, else or other than grace! Father, only because of past grace, present grace, and future grace, we want to live before you with bent knees, and palms up and lives surrendered. Bring much glory to yourself, in us and through us. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ exalted triumphant name.


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Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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