Tag: grace

Sharp disagreements!

Scripture reading for April 26th: Acts 15

Key Scriptures: Acts 15:36-41 “And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the Word of the Lord, and see how they are.” Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilia, strengthening the churches.”

Even among strong believers there can come some sharp disagreements on methods and outreach partners. In this chapter, Paul and Barnabas were discussing the need to revisit the churches that they had founded on their first journey together. On that journey, John Mark had initially joined with them to help with the work, (Acts 13:5) but for some unknown reason deserted the mission to return home. (Acts 13:13) When Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them again, Paul was opposed, so much so that they separated into two different missions. Thank God, Spirit- filled followers of Jesus can still have disagreements and be used by God!

Growing in grace is a progressive learning experience. We are all in process and this example from the apostle Paul’s life and ministry helps us understand that some things have to be worked through over time. Disagreements and differences of opinion are going to be part of ministry. Paul was not wanting to give John Mark another chance since he failed the first time. Barnabas, a natural encourager, saw the potential in John Mark and took him under his supervision on a separate outing. The church committed them both to God’s grace and sent them out. Ministry was multiplied and John Mark was restored. He eventually wrote the Gospel of Mark and was restored to Paul’s favor.

Romans 12:16-18 “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to live peaceably with all men, even in the sometimes sharp disagreement on methods and partners. May the grace of God fill my life with patience and restoration of those who have not met expectations.

2nd Timothy 2:1-2 “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

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Thanks be to God!

Scripture reading for February 17th: Romans 7

Key Scriptures: Romans 7:21-25 “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”

Most commentators agree that Paul is here reflecting on his life as a strict Pharisee who loved God’s law and tried hard to apply it to his life. He wanted to obey and please God, but found within another law, that of sin and death, at work in his members. He ended up in a wretched condition feeling enslaved by the law of sin at work in spite of his desire to live in obedience to God. But thanks be to God Who by grace provided the remedy through Jesus Christ our Lord! Paul understood at last how to be free from the condemnation that trying to keep God’s law through human effort brought. By faith through grace He was set free! Thanks be to God!

Psalm 103:2-4 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, Who forgives all your iniquity, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, . .”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your gift of grace to me and all who will believe. Thank you for delivering me from the law of sin and death and my flesh. Help me to live in the power of the Holy Spirit today in joy and freedom.

Galatians 5:16-18 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”

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Grace as a free gift!

Scripture reading for February 11th: Romans 3

Key Scriptures: Romans 3:21-26 “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it–the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins. It was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

God’s amazing wisdom and grace for righteousness was made available to Jew and Gentile. Although they were all sinners under God’s wrath, God provided redemption through His Son’s blood to all who would believe on Jesus Christ. God demonstrated his righteousness and divine forbearance-patience in delaying justified judgment–by justifying those who came to faith in Jesus. The Jews had the Law and Prophets that bore witness to God’s righteousness. They still could not keep it by their works. The Gentiles had their conscience where God’s Law was written and nature that declared God’s power and authority but they could not earn righteousness. But God gave freely to all who believe in Jesus the free gift of His grace!

Psalm 103:2-4 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, Who forgives all your iniquity, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy. . .”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the covering of Your blood over my sins and Your patience with me and other sinners. Give me grace today to patiently declare Your righteousness and amazing grace through Jesus to those You send me to.

Romans 3:10-12 “as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”” (Psalm 14:1-3)

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“Come.”

Scripture reading for December 31st: Revelation 22; Psalm 150

Key Scripture: Revelation 22:17-21 “”The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of Life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. He Who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”

As we come to the end of this year’s trek through the Bible chronologically, I want to thank the Lord Jesus for the privilege of studying and sharing His amazing Word. Thank you, each one, for joining me as you could. This final devotion records the final prayer of Christ’s Bride, the Church. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, the Bride simply says “Come.” It is an invitation to the thirsty. It is to “whosoever” will respond, with no prejudice towards anyone and no payment required. It is accompanied by a final warning concerning additions or subtractions from God’s Word. Eternal loss is promised to those who choose to do that. Jesus personally states that He is surely coming soon! Grace alone can prepare us. Amen! Come Lord Jesus!

Faith confession and prayer: I pray today, and daily, along with Your Bride, “Come.” I believe You and Your eternal Word, forever settled in the heavens and on earth. Help me to live by grace and faith each day until Your soon and sudden return. Amen! Praise the Lord Jesus Christ!

Psalm 150:8 “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

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The God of peace and love!

Scripture reading for October 2nd: Jeremiah 14-16, Psalm 76, 2nd Corinthians 13

Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 13:11-14 “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

Paul’s closing benediction calls the church at Corinth to joy and peace in the Holy Trinity. God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit bring love, peace and joy to all the saints. They are restoring all believers and bringing comfort, agreement and peace. As believers through the grace of Jesus Christ allow and invite God the Father to live in their midst, His love and peace brings true fellowship through the Father’s gift of the Holy Spirit living in each one. This is the pattern for God’s people everywhere–and especially in our lives today!

Psalm 76:1-2 “In Judah God is known; His Name is great in Israel. His abode has been established in Salem (Peace), His dwelling place in Zion.”

Faith confession and prayer: Heavenly Father, establish Your abode in my midst and the midst of Your Church. May Your grace and peace and love flow from Your people in unity and fellowship as they are fed by Your delightful Word.

Jeremiah 15:16 “Your Words were found and I ate them, and Your Words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by Your Name, O Lord, God of hosts.”

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How’s your harvest?

Scripture reading for September 28th: Jeremiah 1-4, Psalm 130, 2nd Corinthians 9

Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 9:6-9 “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”

Paul encouraged the Corinthians to give cheerfully and with purpose. He did not want to shame them or coerce them to give or to manipulate their hearts with human emotions. He did tell them spiritual truth: the law of sowing and reaping determines the harvest. For a sparing harvest, sow sparingly, but for a bountiful harvest, sow bountifully. God gives the increase and will make all grace abound to you in many areas of need in your life. The abounding harvest is more than money, but brings full sufficiency in all things at all times! Amen!

Psalm 130:5 “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I hope; . . .”

Faith confession and prayer: God’s promises are true and bring encouragement and hope. I want an abundant harvest so I will sow generously and cheerfully trusting in Your Word of promised grace!

Jeremiah 1:11-12 “The Word of the Lord came to me saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over My Word to perform it.””

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Heirs of Eternal Life!

Scripture reading for July 13th:  1st Kings 15, 2nd Chronicles 13-14, Titus 3

Key Scriptures:  Titus 3:3-7  “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.  But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” 

We all have a tainted history–sinners enslaved by our flesh and involved in acts of sin and rebellion against God.  Jesus Christ was presented to us through the preaching of the Gospel and by grace we were able to see His goodness and kindness and respond through repentance and faith.  This was all an act of mercy on Christ’s behalf, justifying us who were guilty and making us heirs with Him of eternal life!  Amazing grace brought saving faith.

Faith confession and prayer:  Lord Jesus, thank You for Your amazing grace, goodness and kindness towards me, a rebellious sinner.  I invite the Holy Spirit to continue Your regeneration of my heart, preparing me for eternal life.  Jesus is Lord!

2nd Chronicles 13:12 “Behold, God is with us at our head, and His priests with their battle trumpets to sound the call to battle against you, O sons of Israel, do not fight against the Lord, the God of you fathers, for you cannot succeed.”

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The Holy Spirit brings out the “spices”!

Scripture reading for June 22nd:  Song of Songs 4-6, 2nd Thessalonians 2

Key Scriptures:  2nd Thessalonians 1:2-5  “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love for one another is increasing.  Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.  This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering–. . ”  

Paul was writing a second letter to the church at Thessolonica.  He sent greetings of grace and peace from “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  He thanked God for their growing faith and increasing love for each other.  They were remaining steadfast and growing in the face of persecution and affliction.  Even as the winds of adversity blew upon them, their faith and perseverance was evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work to prepare them for God’s eternal kingdom!  The spices of their hearts brought a pleasant fragrance before God.

Faith confession and prayer:  Father God, thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit living in me.  I am trusting You today for grace and peace and to allow fragrant spices to flow from my heart.  Help me to be steadfast in life’s daily afflictions and the persecutions of the last days.  May Your kingdom come and Your will be done!

Song of Songs 4:16  “Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind!  Blow upon my garden, let its spices flow.”

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Grace or a spirit of stupor!

Scripture reading for June 5th:  Proverbs 6-7, Psalm 7, Romans 11

Key Scriptures:  Romans 11:5-10 “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.  What then?   Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking.  The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.”  and David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever.””

Paul explained to the Romans how God chose grace as the means of salvation for all people, Jew and Gentile.  If we could work for our salvation, grace would not be grace!  Those who believed the Gospel obtained grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  Those who refused to believe but sought to keep the law by human effort were hardened and were overcome by a spirit of stupor.  They would miss the grace of God freely offered.

Psalm 7:12-13  “If a man does not repent, God will whet His sword;  He has bent and readied His bow; He has prepared for him His deadly weapons, making His arrows fiery shafts.”  

Faith confession and prayer:  I believe in salvation through grace by faith as Your plan for all men.  I have repented of my own dead works and trust Jesus Christ as Lord.  Help me warn and preach Your Gospel that all may avoid Your wrath.

Proverbs 6:23 “For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, . . “

 

 

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The God Who Watches Over His Own!

Scripture reading for February 4th:  Exodus 10-12, Ephesians 2

Key Scriptures:  Exodus 12:40-42 “The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years, on that very day, all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.  It was a night of watching by the Lord, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the Lord by all the people of Israel throughout their generations.”

Our salvation and deliverance from sin and death is not an accident.  It did not come from man’s works or schemes, but was a sovereign act of God prepared beforehand and announced through the prophets.  On an exact day predetermined by God, the Israelites were brought out of Egypt through the grace of God by a blood sacrifice.  So Paul wrote to the Ephesians, that God’s grace alone had brought them salvation through faith in His Firstborn Son’s sacrifice.  God watched over it all and now we watch in amazement as He completes the work in us.

Faith Confession and prayer:  I simply rest in the grace given me by trusting in Jesus Christ and His shed blood.  I ask our Lord to guide me daily in fulfillment of the works He also has prepared for me as I wait and watch for the fullness of time and Christ’s return!

 Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

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