Tag: grace

Love and grace are essentials

Scripture reading for September 15th: Isaiah 56-59, Psalm 70, 1st Corinthians 16

1st Corinthians 16: 11-12, 21 “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act as men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. . . . I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. If anyone has no love for the Lord; let him be accursed. Our Lord, Come! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.”

Paul closed this letter of encouragement and teaching to this church family with simple words of truth. Watchfulness was needed because of the false teachers who sough to draw them away from the Gospel truth. They must stand firm in their faith yet show love to all–even to those who might be opposed to them and the truth of the Gospel. But loving our Lord was not an option, but an essential. Paul reminded them that anyone who did not love Jesus and claimed to be a believer was under a curse. God’s grace is a gift to be received and held on to. Paul assured them of this and of his own love for them as he wrote this letter of correction and instruction as their father in the faith.

Isaiah 59:19-21 “”So they shall fear the Name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; for He will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the Lord drives. And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord. “And as for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the Lord; “My Spirit that is upon you, and My Words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore.””

Prayer: Father in heaven, thank You for Your love shown to us in Jesus Christ, Who laid down His life for us. Thank You for the Gift of the Holy Spirit to abide in us always and release Your love in us and through us to a lost world. I love you and pray for grace in my children and grand-children and all offspring to know You and be filled with the promised Holy Spirit. Let it not depart from them forever! Amen!

Psalm 70::4-5 “May all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You! May those who love Your salvation say evermore, “God is great!” But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! Your are my Help and my Deliverer; O Lord, do not delay.”

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Count yourself alive to God!

Scripture reading for May 31st: 1st Kings 1, 1st Chronicles 26-28, Romans 6

Romans 6:11-14 “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under the law but under grace.”

The Old Testament Law stirred up the passions of the flesh and man’s sin nature rebelled and disobeyed. Jesus Christ fully obeyed the Law and took the penalty of death on our behalf for our law-breaking. Now that we have trusted Christ and come under the new covenant of grace through His shed blood, we count ourselves alive to God and dead to sin and its passions. A dead person cannot be influenced to sin because their passions are also dead. Since we are dead to sin and now are alive eternally in Christ, we also must daily present our bodies to God for Him to use as instruments for righteousness. Sin no longer has dominion over us for we live by God’s grace daily in thanksgiving.

1st Kings 1:5 “Now Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, “I will be king.” And he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him.”

Prayer: Father God, thank You for the gift of grace and righteousness through Your Son, Jesus Christ. He took my sin and its penalty and I died with Him. I was buried with Him and rose again to the newness of life eternal as He rose from the dead. I present my body to God to be used for His glory and to share His grace to build each person who repents into a habitation of God through His Spirit.

1st Chronicles 28:9-10 “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. Be careful now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong and do it.”

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Cause for rejoicing!

Scripture reading for May 30th: 1st Chronicles 22-25, Psalm 78, Romans 5

Romans 5: 1-5 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produced endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Paul expounded on the results and effects of our justification by God through faith. There was much cause for believers to rejoice and be filled with joy. They now enjoyed peace with God in that God’s gift of righteousness now took the place of guilt and shame and fear of judgment. Instead of God’s wrath, we now have a hope of beholding the glory of God and eternally reflecting His glory. We can even rejoice in our sufferings which were promised by Jesus for all who believe. These sufferings produce endurance, the ability to wait on God’s help and plan. They also produce character–the image of Jesus in our lives as a result of purification from sins and living in hope of eternal life.

Psalm 78:5-7 “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments; . .”

Prayer: Father God, I rejoice in Your gift of righteousness and the hope of eternal life. Thank You for peace with God and rest from the striving to keep the law. Form Your character in me and give me endurance in suffering. Help me to declare this joy and peace through faith to my children, grandchildren and their children until You come again and inhabit Your royal throne here on earth and forever and ever!

2nd Samuel 22:9-10 “‘Behold, a son shall be born to you who shall be a man of rest. I will give him rest from all his surrounding enemies. For his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. He shall build a house for My Name. He shall be My son, and I will be his Father, and I will establish his royal throne in Israel forever.'”

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Faith counted as righteousness!

Scripture reading for May 27th: 2nd Samuel 24, 1st Chronicles 21, Romans 4

Romans 4:1-5 “What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in Him Who justified the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, . .””

Paul was explaining the amazing truth of justification by faith to Gentile believers as well as Jews. Here he showed how God used Abraham’s faith to call him ‘righteous’ before the law or circumcision was given. This man Abraham simply believed God’s promise that he would become the father of many nations, even when his wife Sarah had been barren for many years. Abraham was 99 years old and Sarah was 90 and beyond the years of childbirth, but by faith they conceived and Sarah had a child as God had promised. This child and his offspring would become a nation, Israel, that would be marked by God’s presence in their midst. However, Abraham’s simple faith made him the ‘father’ of all from every nation who will believe and received the gift of righteousness! Amen!

Romans 4:16-17 “That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring–not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”–in the presence of the God in Whom he believed, Who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.”

Prayer: Father God, Thank You for giving all who believe in You and Your Son, Jesus Christ, the gift of Your righteousness and the forgiveness of our sins, guilt and shame. I am humbled and grateful to be filled with Your Presence. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and power to declare this “good news” to all people, nations, tribes and tongues that all might enjoy grace and eternal life in Your presence.

2nd Samuel 22:24-25 “But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” So David built there an altar to the Lord and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord responded to the plea for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel.”

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Prepare for action!

Scripture reading for October 12th: 1st Peter 1

Key Scriptures: 1st Peter 1:13-16 “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He Who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.””

Peter, the impulsive apostle, was now writing a letter to the church after years of following Jesus and serving Christ faithfully. He offered instruction to fellow-believers from the grace that he had received over the years. He called believers to prepare for action in their minds. They need not be confused by worry or fear or drunk on the circumstances of the world that they lived in. They must be sober-minded and centered on the fulness of grace that would be brought to them when Jesus Christ returned. Because of this hope, they must be obedient to Christ Jesus and pursue holiness of thought and deed, not being dominated by their former passions and the ignorance that kept them in spiritual darkness. True faith actively pursues obedience and holiness because God’s Word calls us to it.

1st Peter 1:17-19 “And if you call on Him as Father Who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear through out the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a Lamb without blemish or spot.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, as I read this Word of God from Peter, I prepare my mind for action to obey You in all Your loving instruction. I believe in the grace that I have received from trusting in Jesus Christ and His shed blood, and look forward to the full salvation experience when Jesus is revealed again. Help me daily to be holy and obedient to the Holy Word and Holy Spirit.

1st Peter 1:22-23 “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding Word of God; . . “

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Hardened by sin’s deceitfulness

Scripture reading for August 10th: Hebrews 3

Key Scriptures: Hebrews 3:12-15 “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

Knowing God’s Word and will does not guarantee that we will believe it and obey God. The Israelites had God’s Word and knew His laws and decrees. They had experienced God’s presence in the cloud and fire and heard His voice on Mt. Sinai. But unbelief still plagued them and they fell away from God! Notice that falling is always ‘away’ and never ‘towards’ when unbelief is found in a hardened heart. Notice that ‘today’ is this day that we now find ourselves in. It is a day to ‘take care’ to listen to God’s voice. It is a day to exhort one another to guard our hearts against sins deceitfulness and hardening character. It is a day of salvation, as we never know if a ‘tomorrow’ is in our future here on earth. Sin often brings presumption that we have lots of time to do our own thing and then repent. Beware, a hardened heart is coming your way!

Hebrews 3:16-18 “For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was He provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for exhorting me and warning me by Your Holy Word and voice. Use me to exhort others and watch over their souls. Help me to stay humble and soft in my heart, responding today to Your Word and call for repentance and faith. Today is the day of salvation and now is the time to receive grace!

2nd Corinthians 6:1-2 “Working together with Him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

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Hope and comfort through grace!

Scripture reading for June 22nd: 2nd Thessalonians 2

Key Scriptures: 2nd Thessalonians 2:13-17 “But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this He called you through our Gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, Who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”

It is not our works that save us, but our good works and words are the fruit that come from a life of faith. Our very lives in Christ are fruit to God, as He sets us apart by the Holy Spirit after we believe the Truth of the Gospel. Through faith and grace we become heirs of eternal comfort and good hope of eternal life in God’s presence. Our only ‘work’ is to stand firm in the Gospel truth of Jesus Christ as Lord and hold onto the traditions laid out in God’s Word. As we stand firm, we share by word and example the grace of God that saved us and call others to eternal hope and comfort in Christ Jesus the Lord. God’s great love for all sinners is demonstrated by His grace in Christ made available to all through the cross by faith.

Ephesians 2:4-5 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–“

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for calling us by Your eternal love and grace to a place of comfort and hope. Help me to stand firm in Your grace and hold to the traditions taught in Your word by faith. May Your love flow towards others through my life and testimony. I have good hope knowing all Your promises are true and will not be disappointed!

Colossians 2:6-7 “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

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By grace alone–through faith

Scripture reading for May 25th: Ephesians 2

Key Scriptures: Ephesians 2:4-9 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 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.”

Boasting is the result of pride in our own ability or accomplishment. We may have reason to boast in some things, but never in relation to our salvation from the penalty of sin and our adoption into God’s family. Salvation is a gift given by a generous and loving Father God through the sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. The only thing we can do is receive the gift by faith and say “thank You”. Those who receive with show forth God’s amazing grace and goodness throughout eternity. Our only boast is in our Lord’s amazing grace gift to us who are undeserved sinners. To Him be all glory, honor and praise, now and forever and ever!

Ephesians 2:18-19 “For through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, . . .”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the gift of salvation and eternal life. We boast in Your great love and mercy and are so thankful to be adopted into the household of God. Let Your love flow through me to others that they might also enjoy salvation and boast in You forever and ever.

Ephesians 2:22 “In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

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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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