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Day By Day By Grace - September 3

David Confessing God as His Refuge

Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us…You are my hiding place…You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. (Psalm 62:8 and 32:7)

David often confessed God as his refuge. This is another indicator that he typically lived by the grace of God (that is, by trusting God to work on his behalf).

The need or desire to find a refuge (a place of shelter or protection) is common among mankind. The storms of life can beat down relentlessly. Circumstantially, it can be as though Ezekiel's prophetic warning is being fulfilled toward us. "There will be flooding rain… great hailstones…and a stormy wind" (Ezekiel 13:11). We long for a shelter. At other times, threats and dangers seem to lurk around every corner. Experientially, it can be as though we are reliving the trials of David. "The pangs of death encompassed me, And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid. The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me" (Psalm 18:4-5). We long for a place of protection. David knew where to turn for refuge when troubles multiplied. "God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1). Our place of shelter and protection is not a place, but a Person. When troubles come, we can turn to Him. He is totally available to help us ("a very present help"). Whenever we exercise our trust in Him, whenever we pour our heart out to Him in prayer, we can enjoy the Lord as our refuge. "Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us."

At other times, we are not looking so much for a refuge (a place of shelter or protection), we are seeking a hiding place (a secret solitude). When this occurs, we easily identify with David's desire to flee. "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! For then I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, And remain in the wilderness" (Psalm 55:6-7). Well, God has more good news for us. As David learned, the Lord is willing and able to be that hiding place. "You are my hiding place …You shall surround me with songs of deliverance." Whenever we turn to the Lord and allow Him to encompass us with songs of His delivering power, we can enjoy the Lord as our hiding place. Of course, one practical way to be surrounded by God's "songs of deliverance" is to spend time prayerfully reading in the book of Psalms. They are God's divinely inspired rescue songs.

Dear God, my refuge, I so often long to be sheltered and protected. I praise You that I can find that by running to You in prayer! Dear Lord, my hiding place, I frequently yearn to flee for a secret solitude. I rejoice that I can find that by allowing You to surround me by Your message of deliverance found in Your word!

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Day By Day By Grace - September 2

David Confessing the Lord as His Strength

The LORD is the strength of my life…The LORD is…my strength, in whom I will trust. (Psalm 27:1 and 18:2)

Living by grace involves depending upon God to work in our lives. For the greater part of his life, David was an outstanding Old Testament example of such living. This was certainly evident in the way David frequently confessed the Lord as his strength.

Everyone in this fallen world needs strength just to deal with the daily responsibilities and challenges of life. When you add the calling and desire of believers to please and honor God, much strength is needed day by day. David confessed the Lord as his strength for living. "The LORD is the strength of my life." How wonderful to know that the Lord is with us to impart His strength in us for every aspect of our lives, whether home, or work, or ministry, or whatever.

In our earthly pilgrimage, we need strength to stay on course. The world, the flesh, and the devil want to prevent us from progressing down the Lord's perfect path. David found in the Lord the strength for this need as well. "It is God who arms me with strength, And makes my way perfect" (Psalm 18:32). At times, when walking along our designated path of life, we get trapped in circumstantial nets, laid by the enemy of our souls. When David experienced these traps, he cried out to God for the necessary strength. "Pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, For You are my strength" (Psalm 31:4). At other times along our path, the problem is not a trap, but an all-out battle. Once again, David found the strength he needed in His Lord. "For You have armed me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me" (Psalm 18:39).

Sometimes, the need for strength pertains to what is going on within (or flowing forth from within). The thoughts we are thinking and the words we are expressing might need to be anchored again in the will of the Lord. David also knew how to turn to God for this essential strength as well. "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer" (Psalm 19:14). When he weakened within and stumbled in failure, David still knew where to turn for the only help that will ever prove sufficient. "My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Psalm 73:26). Whatever the need for strength, David learned to rely upon the Lord. "The LORD is…my strength, in whom I will trust."

O Lord, my strength, I need Your strength for daily responsibilities, strength for staying on track with You, strength for periodic battles, strength for weaknesses within, strength to please You. You are my strength; I trust in You!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 1

Joshua Leading the People in God's Victory

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho…a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, "Are You for us or for our adversaries?" So He said, "No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, "What does my LORD say to His servant?" (Joshua 5:13-14)

When Moses pointed Israel to the Lord for battle, he was teaching God's people to live by grace (which involves God at work on behalf of His people). "The LORD your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you" (Deuteronomy 20:4). Joshua demonstrated this same truth, when he led the people in God's victory.

Before the first battle at Jericho, God gave Joshua the opportunity to commit to the Lord as the Commander of the army of Israel. "And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho…a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, 'Are You for us or for our adversaries'?" The Lord appeared in the form of an armed soldier. Joshua asked if the man was for Israel or against them. The Lord responded that it was not a matter of being for or against Israel, but that He was in charge of Israel. "'No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.' And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped." At this point Joshua fully yielded to the Lord as the leader of God's army. "What does my LORD say to His servant?" Any victories would have to be provided by this divine Commander.

At Jericho, this divine Commander would cause the walls to fall down, as His people would humbly trust Him, obediently marching around the city. "And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat" (Joshua 6:20). At Ai, the Commander gave Joshua a two-pronged ambush strategy. "We will flee before them. Then you shall rise from the ambush and seize the city, for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand" (Joshua 8:6-7). Against the Amorite kings, large hailstones and an extended day were used by the Commander to bring a mighty victory. "The LORD cast down large hailstones from heaven…So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day" (Joshua 10:11, 13). Whether by perplexing marching orders, by understandable strategy, by "natural phenomenon," or by miraculously extended time, the Commander brought victory.

Mighty God of Israel, I look to You to be the One Who is in charge of my battles, the One Who fights for me. Lord, bring forth victory by any means You desire—whether perplexing, understandable, "natural," or miraculous, Amen.

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8/31/15 8:51 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 31

Moses Pointing to the Lord for Battle

Hear, O Israel: Today you are on the verge of battle with your enemies; do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; for the LORD your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you. (Deuteronomy 20:3-4)

Moses is another example of those who lived by grace in the Old Testament. He knew the necessity of relying upon the sufficiency of God, instead of upon the inadequate resources of man. One illustration of this is seen when he pointed Israel to the Lord for battle.

When the children of Israel would enter into the Promised Land, innumerable battles would lie before them. These battles were inevitable, since godless nations had entrenched themselves in the land: "because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God drives them out from before you" (Deuteronomy 9:5). Thus, the history of Israel documents one battle after another.

Moses announced the truth that the people of the Lord need to hear as the battle draws near. "Today you are on the verge of battle with your enemies; do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them." So often, when the warfare appears, the foe seems invincible: "When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you" (Deuteronomy 20:1). The natural temptation is to "faint …be afraid…tremble or be terrified." Another temptation is to try to match the enemy horse for horse and chariot for chariot. The Scriptures warn of the futility of turning to worldly resources. "Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but who do not look to the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 31:1).

Moses knew that God's people need a reminder that the Lord wants to be our hope. When we must go into the battles of life, the Lord accompanies us. "For the LORD your God is He who goes with you." He is with us not only to comfort us, but also to battle on our behalf: "to fight for you against your enemies, to save you." The Lord can fight for His people in an unlimited variety of ways. He can change the hearts of those who oppose us. He can bring their plans to naught. He can trap them in their own evil plans. He can cause our enemies to turn and devour one another. He can effectively save us in any manner that He chooses.

O Lord, my Defender, I face many battles that leave me intimidated and fearful. My hope is often placed in my own worldly strategies or the help that man can offer. Lord, I look to You afresh to fight for me and to rescue me any way You choose, for Your glory and honor, Amen.

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8/30/15 7:31 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 30

Joshua and Caleb Entering the Promised Land

Surely none of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and above, shall see the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, because they have not wholly followed Me, except Caleb…and Joshua…for they have wholly followed the LORD. (Numbers 32:11-12)

Those who live by humble faith enter into the fullness of God's provisions of grace. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble…we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (James 4:6 and Romans 5:2). Joshua and Caleb illustrated this truth by entering the Promised Land.

As we have seen, God's great salvation is both "from" and "unto." "We have passed from death to life" (1 John 3:14). Also, this life we have been given is to be experienced in abundance. "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). Israel's calling by the Lord from bondage in Egypt to fullness in the land pictures this truth. "So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey" (Exodus 3:8).

Joshua and Caleb were the only adult Israelites in that first generation who went "into the fullness" of God's calling. They alone went into the land. "Surely none of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and above, shall see the land… because they have not wholly followed Me, except Caleb…and Joshua." Joshua would not only enter the land, he would lead Israel into God's victory. "Then Moses called Joshua and said to him…you must go with this people to the land…and you shall cause them to inherit it" (Deuteronomy 31:7). Caleb would not only enter the land, he would still be strengthened by faith in God even in his old age. "Here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war" (Joshua 14:11).

Unlike Joshua and Caleb, the other Israelites followed the Lord's calling out from Egypt, but they did not follow Him into the land. Many Christians repeat this same error today. They have followed the Lord as He led them out of the spiritual death of sin and guilt. They are "out of Egypt." They are forgiven of their sins. They have new life in Christ. However, they do not follow the Lord on "into the land." They do not follow by faith into abundance of life. They do not follow the Lord in humble dependence for transformation, for fruitfulness, for a life of spiritual victory.

Dear God of Israel, thank You for bringing me out of the Egypt of my own spiritual bondage. Now, as Joshua and Caleb did, I long to follow You wholly into the fullness that you desire me to walk in, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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8/29/15 8:53 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 29

Living by God's Grace in the Old Testament

And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes…"If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us…Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land…the LORD is with us." (Numbers 14:6, 8-9)

Throughout the Old Testament, we can find examples of people living by the grace of God. They may not have been able to describe their experience in terms of grace. Yet, their reliance upon God to work on their behalf was just as valid as ours. Living by grace is about God at work in people's lives. Even though they may have been born under the law, they could not live by means of the law. The law supplied no resource for life. Without God at work, the only resource is from the flesh, from natural human sufficiency. This has always been inadequate for living as God intended. Joshua and Caleb realized that God's sufficiency (His grace) was the only reliable hope.

Twelve Israelites had just returned from spying out the Promised Land. Ten of them had a similar perspective. "We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey…Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large…We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we" (Numbers 13:27-28, 31). Their bad report was based upon what they saw, measured against their own resources. By this evaluation, they concluded: "We are not able to go up against the people." They were comparing two sets of human resources. "They are stronger than we."

Joshua and Caleb were deeply distressed by this inappropriate evaluation. "And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes." They knew that this outlook ignored what God had promised and what God could do. "If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us." They realized that this majority report, which was based on human sight and human capabilities, was actually a form of rebellion against the Lord. "Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land." Their rebellion was in fearing man and not trusting God. All the children of Israel needed to do was remember the Lord was committed to them. "The LORD is with us." The Lord was willing and able to give them the land.

Lord God Almighty, I am reminded that the majority report is so often based on human sight and earthly resources. Help me to be like Joshua and Caleb. I want a perspective that is based upon what You have promised and what You are able to do, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 28

The Certainty of All the Promises of God

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us…was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. (2 Corinthians 1:19-20)

As we have seen, some of the promises of God are "exceedingly great and precious." Others are very "unpopular." The former category of promises brings encouragement, strength, hope, comfort. For example,"The LORD will perfect that which concerns me" (Psalm 138:8). The latter category warns, awakens, humbles, prepares. For example, "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12). Yet, whether we gladly embrace a "precious" promise or struggle with an "unpopular" promise, there is the absolute certainty of all the promises of God being fulfilled. Our present verses explain the basis of this certainty. The assurance is related to the very nature of Jesus Christ.

When Paul and his missionary team preached about the Lord Jesus, it was not a "yes-and-no" message. "For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us…was not Yes and No." The attributes and the message of Jesus are not characterized by uncertainty. He is faithful and sure. The message concerning Him, as well as the messages He proclaimed, are "Yes." They are all guaranteed realities. It is not that Jesus could be the Son of God. He is certainly such. It is not that Jesus might save all who call upon Him. Such is totally assured. It is not that some of His promises could possibly be fulfilled. Rather, all of them will absolutely be fulfilled. Ezekiel declared this truth concerning all of the Godhead. "For I am the LORD. I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass…the word which I speak will be done" (Ezekiel 12:25, 28). Later, John added a particular word concerning our reliable Savior: "Jesus Christ, the faithful witness" (Revelation 1:5). No wonder then that "all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us." Our God is going to faithfully do everything that He has ever stated in every one of His promises. The result will be great glory to Him, as He fulfills His promises in and through our lives.

Day by day throughout the family of God, some Christians live in the blessed certainty of God's promises, while others do not. The determining difference is faith versus unbelief. Joshua and Caleb of old entered into the promised land. The rest of that generation "could not enter in because of unbelief" (Hebrews 3:19).

Dear Lord, I long to be a promise believer, living by faith in Your promises to me. Thank You for making it so simple and so available. You want to make promises to me, and You want me to count on You to fulfill them. I rejoice that all Your promises are Yes and Amen in Jesus Christ, my Lord!

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8/27/15 6:41 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 27

An "Unpopular" Promise Regarding Persecution

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)

For a final visit, we return to the category of "unpopular" promises. This promise guarantees persecution for serious believers in Jesus Christ. In a church world where many treasure comfort and popularity, this promise is not well-received.

This promise is given to those who want to live a life of godliness: "who desire to live godly." Godliness is the will of the Lord for His people. "But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness" (1 Timothy 6:11). Our Lord Himself declared that there is great blessing in having a passion for righteous living. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness" (Matthew 5:6a). The blessing is God's pledge to satisfy that heart which yearns for righteousness: "for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6b).

Yet, we have seen that fullness of righteousness is not all that is promised to those who want to walk in godliness. Persecution is also promised. "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." Notice the comprehensive, inescapable dimension of this promise. "All who desire to live godly… will suffer persecution." There are no exceptions. There are no exemptions.

All who sincerely desire to follow the Lord Jesus Christ will experience the consequences that He met as He walked in righteousness. "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20). Jesus was not universally hailed for His righteous path. He was opposed, mocked, conspired against, and betrayed. We need not be startled when measures of similar persecutions befall us.

Of course, this promise of persecution is not given to discourage us from pressing on down the path of godliness. Rather, it is offered to prepare us for the difficulties that are guaranteed as we seek to grow in Christlikeness. The Lord even adds gracious encouragements to righteousness, so we will be strengthened to pursue His holy will in this matter. "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:10). Persecutions can remind us that we are headed for heaven. Persecutions can bring us heavenly measures of sustaining grace along the way.

O righteous Lord, I long to walk in Your paths of righteousness. Strengthen my heart with Your grace that I might press on in godliness. Help me to never shrink back, even though persecutions are guaranteed. Help me to stand true, even though persecutions may become severe. Lord, I count on Your promises to see me through the battles, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 26

More on the Most Precious Promise of Shared Life

By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature…Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (2 Peter 1:4 and John 15:4-5)

This promise of shared life is so "exceedingly great and precious" that we would do well to consider it further. Being "partakers of the divine nature" (without becoming divine ourselves) is a difficult concept to grasp. The Scriptures clearly invite us to live day by day through Christ sharing His life in us. "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20). Yet, how to walk in this truth can seem quite elusive. In His teaching on the vine and the branches, Jesus provided a wonderful physical illustration of this tremendous spiritual reality.

Jesus' visible example involves actual grapevines, grape branches, and the grapes that can potentially result. For grapes to grow, the appropriate life source must be accessed by the branches. The grape branches do not have this life in themselves. "The branch cannot bear fruit of itself." In order to bear grapes, the grape branch must share in the life of the vine. "The branch cannot bear fruit… unless it abides in the vine." This can be irrefutably demonstrated by separating a grape branch from its vine. No grapes can ever be produced on the branches, if the life of the vine is not flowing through the branches. The life of the vine is essential.

The spiritual application specifies Jesus as the vine and us as the branches. "I am the vine, you are the branches." For Christlike fruit to develop in us, the appropriate life source must be accessed by us. We branches do not have this life in us: "neither can you [bear fruit], unless you abide in Me." This truth is lamentably demonstrated daily by Christians who live self-sufficiently, not depending upon the life that is in Jesus, the vine. "Without Me you can do nothing." Day by day Christian living is only possible by the shared life of Jesus at work through us.

Once again, we are reminded that humility and faith are the practical application for living as God intends. We must humbly depend upon Jesus for true fruitful living, just as grape branches must depend upon their vine for grapes.

Dear Lord Jesus, I thank You that I do not have to produce true life in and of myself. Teach me to live by Your shared life. I want to humbly and dependently abide in You, that You might live in and through me, for Your glory, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 25

The Most Precious Promise of Shared Life

By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature…Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law…that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (2 Peter 1:4 and Galatians 3:13-14)

Here, we get at the heart of God's "exceedingly great and precious promises." By means of promise, the Lord has made it possible for us to share in His life: "that through these [God's promises] you may be partakers of the divine nature."

What a remarkable prospect this is-that man could participate in the divine nature. Yet, the promises of God make this available to man. Of course, this does not mean that man becomes divine (as many false religions and some aberrant theologies espouse). God alone is, and will ever be, divine. "I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me" (Isaiah 46:9). Nonetheless, man can share in the life of God, even though he will never become "a god" himself. This is accomplished by Jesus Christ coming to dwell within the lives of those who believe in Him. The Lord Jesus died for us that He might give life to us. "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life" (John 6:47). This life that Jesus wants to share with us is His own life. "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life'…Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life'" (John 11:25 and 14:6).

The Apostle Paul taught this great truth extensively. "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 1:1). He understood that his apostolic ministry was not only anchored in God's will, but it also depended upon the spiritual life that God promised. Thus, he confessed Christ as his very own life: "Christ who is our life" (Colossians 3:4). Paul was not the source of the daily Christian life that he lived. "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20). The Lord Jesus was Paul's life source.

This is what the promise of the Spirit is about. "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law…that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." At new birth, the Holy Spirit also comes to indwell those who believe. The Spirit reveals these truths to us through the word of God. Then the Spirit pours forth the life of Christ through every humble, dependent child of God. "It is the Spirit who gives life" (John 6:63).

Lord Jesus, thank You for making Your life available to me. What a precious promise that is! Teach me to walk according to Your Spirit, that Your life might be expressed through my life day by day, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 24

An "Unpopular" Prophetic Promise of Apostasy

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron. (1 Timothy 4:1-2)

As we continue to alternate between "precious promises" and "unpopular" promises, we come to a prophetic promise of apostasy. Among those who are actually drifting into apostasy, this promise is certainly "unpopular." Additionally, in a church world that wrongly accepts what sounds positive and rejects what sounds negative (instead of rejecting error and accepting truth), this promise is often met with disinterest or, worse, disdain.

"The faith" is the message of the word of God. It is the divine truth in which we are to place our faith, our trust. It especially includes the good news of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our present promise forewarns that there will be those who fall away from "the faith" as the days press closer and closer to the end of the church era. "In latter times some will depart from the faith." Since this is a departure, they seemed to adhere to the word of God for a season. Then they turned away from it. If they remain active in the church world, their message will no longer reflect the true content of the Scriptures. Peter gave a similar warning. "There were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them" (2 Peter 2:1). As sure as Israel had false prophets, the church would have false teachers.

Paul provided some insights into their path of apostasy. They would be "giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons." Paying attention to concepts that were perpetrated by demonic deception would result in errors in their doctrine. The devil and his army of evil spirits are intent on confusing and distorting the teaching of the word of God. Typically, such errors feed man's fleshly desires to glorify self.

These apostates would also be "speaking lies in hypocrisy." Not only would their teaching be erroneous, their lives would be marked by falsehoods related to pretense. They would add untrue testimony to their inaccurate message. Perhaps the reports of their ministerial prowess would be grossly exaggerated.

They would also be "having their own conscience seared with a hot iron." They would teach errors and live lies until their consciences were no longer convicted of sin. We are forewarned. Such apostates undoubtedly abound in these last days.

Lord God of truth, thank You for lovingly warning of the danger of apostasy. Enlarge my appreciation of such "unpopular" promises. Please help me to cherish the truth of Your word. Give me a heart to know Your word. Sharpen my discernment concerning error. Keep my heart and my message anchored in the truth of Scripture, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 23

A Precious Promise of God's Perfecting Work

The LORD will perfect that which concerns me. (Psalm 138:8)

Again, we look at one of God's "precious promises" (2 Peter 1:4). This one pertains to His perfecting work in the lives of those who know Him and humbly depend upon Him. This priceless promise is the Old Testament antecedent of the one we recently considered from Philippians 1:6. "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it."

Think of the astounding implications of our present promise. "The LORD will perfect that which concerns me." Our God has pledged to fully accomplish His will and His plan in every matter that pertains to our lives. Let's consider three important examples of "that which concerns [us]": development of biblical understanding, growth in godliness, and (for the married) spiritual progress in marriage.

God's word reveals that He wants us to develop in biblical understanding. "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food" (Hebrews 5:12). If we will humbly feed on God's word, seeking Him for spiritual insight, He "will perfect that which concerns [us]" in this area of life.

God's word reveals His will for us to grow in godliness. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age" (Titus 2:11-12). If we seek the Lord and trust in Him for ongoing growth in godliness, He "will perfect that which concerns [us]" in this area as well.

God's word reveals His will with respect to spiritual progress in marriage. The Lord wants married couples to become mutually submissive servants, each serving the other out of reverence for the Lord: "submitting to one another in the fear of God" (Ephesians 5:21). The servant wife would follow the spiritual leadership of the husband. "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22). The servant husband would love His wife with sacrificial Christ-like love. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her" (Ephesians 5:25). As each seeks the Lord for His transforming grace, He "will perfect that which concerns [us]" in this vital area of life also.

Dear Father, I acknowledge many futile attempts to perfect myself. I easily forget that You have promised to attend to my perfecting. My vain efforts only quench the work of Your Spirit of grace. Lord, please carry out Your transforming work in my study of Your word, in my need to grow in godliness, in my relationships at home—as well as in my testimony on the job, in my service of You—yes, in my entire life, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 22

A Precious Promise of God's Completing Work

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

Now, we return to the category we are calling "precious promises." (2 Peter 1:4). Here we have a priceless one concerning God's commitment to complete in us the wonderful work of salvation that He began at our new birth.

If our faith is in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, God has started a tremendous saving work on our behalf: "He who has begun a good work in you."

He has made us new creatures in His Son. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). He has supplied us with immeasurable heavenly resources. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3). What a grand work has been started in us. Yet, God's saving work is "so great a salvation" (Hebrews 2:3). Thus, whatever He has already accomplished in us is only a part of the whole. Wherever we are in this glorious process, there is some completing work that God desires to do. He wants to bring into our understanding, our character, and our daily experience more of that which is fully ours in Christ.

Furthermore, our God wants us to be confident concerning this matter: "Being confident of this very thing." As noted in our previous meditation, God does not want people living in self-confidence. That misplaced trust is just another form of pride. This does not mean that we Christians are to be without confidence in our lives. It does mean that all of our confidence is to be placed in the Lord. "And we have such trust [confidence] through Christ toward God" (2 Corinthians 3:4). Our Lord wants us to have strong assurance in Him that He will complete this work in us.

Also remember, God's saving work is completed within our lives: "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it." The Lord has established an eternal position for us with Him in heavenly places: "and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6). Yet, He wants to effect a godly walk for us here on earth. "Walk worthy of the calling with which you were called" (Ephesians 4:1). This walk is not based upon human theories of behavior modification. Our Lord Himself develops this in and through our hearts. "Now may the God of peace…make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight" (Hebrews 13:20-21).

Dear Lord, I long to walk in more of the reality of that which is mine in Christ. Thank You for these words that build my confidence in You. I humbly repent of my self-confident attempts to do what only You can do. I look to You anew and alone! Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 21

A Precious Promise of God's Completing Work

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

Now, we return to the category we are calling "precious promises." (2 Peter 1:4). Here we have a priceless one concerning God's commitment to complete in us the wonderful work of salvation that He began at our new birth.

If our faith is in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, God has started a tremendous saving work on our behalf: "He who has begun a good work in you."

He has made us new creatures in His Son. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). He has supplied us with immeasurable heavenly resources. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3). What a grand work has been started in us. Yet, God's saving work is "so great a salvation" (Hebrews 2:3). Thus, whatever He has already accomplished in us is only a part of the whole. Wherever we are in this glorious process, there is some completing work that God desires to do. He wants to bring into our understanding, our character, and our daily experience more of that which is fully ours in Christ.

Furthermore, our God wants us to be confident concerning this matter: "Being confident of this very thing." As noted in our previous meditation, God does not want people living in self-confidence. That misplaced trust is just another form of pride. This does not mean that we Christians are to be without confidence in our lives. It does mean that all of our confidence is to be placed in the Lord. "And we have such trust [confidence] through Christ toward God" (2 Corinthians 3:4). Our Lord wants us to have strong assurance in Him that He will complete this work in us.

Also remember, God's saving work is completed within our lives: "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it." The Lord has established an eternal position for us with Him in heavenly places: "and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6). Yet, He wants to effect a godly walk for us here on earth. "Walk worthy of the calling with which you were called" (Ephesians 4:1). This walk is not based upon human theories of behavior modification. Our Lord Himself develops this in and through our hearts. "Now may the God of peace…make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight" (Hebrews 13:20-21).

Dear Lord, I long to walk in more of the reality of that which is mine in Christ. Thank You for these words that build my confidence in You. I humbly repent of my self-confident attempts to do what only You can do. I look to You anew and alone! Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 20

"Unpopular" Promises Regarding Pride and Humility

"Whoever exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Matthew 23:12)

In returning to our category of "unpopular" promises, we now consider a pair that contrasts pride and humility. Basically, these promises guarantee grievous results for those who choose the path of pride, while assuring abundant blessings for those who willingly walk in humility. In a proud world (and, too often, proud church world), these promises are definitely "unpopular."

The way of the world is self-exaltation. Babylon is an example of this truth. Babylon was one of the mightiest kingdoms of ancient history. God would allow them to rise to worldwide power. He would even use them to chastise His own rebellious people, Israel. Yet, the Lord warned them of the end to which their pride would lead them. "I was angry with My people; I have…given them into your hand. You showed them no mercy …you…who say in your heart, 'I am, and there is no one else besides me'…Therefore evil shall come upon you…And trouble shall fall upon you…And desolation shall come upon you suddenly" (Isaiah 47:6, 8, 11). Even mighty Babylon could not prevent this promised end. "Whoever exalts himself will be abased." If kingdoms powerful enough to dominate their era could not negate this promise, how much less can any individual person (whether in the world or the church world) avoid this sober end for all who walk in pride?

Many of those who would scoff at this warning against pride, also disdain its corollary: "he who humbles himself will be exalted." Many religious and irreligious people alike hate to accept that humility is God's path of promised blessing. To them, humility is weakness and foolishness. They are convinced that self-confidence and self-assertion will gain whatever is desired. They refuse to accept that humility will lead to blessing. Nevertheless, humility is what pleases the Lord. David, a man of great intimacy with God, understood this truth. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart-These, O God, You will not despise" (Psalm 51:17). God delights in those who come before Him admitting their great need. God is not looking for "mighty Babylons." He is looking for humble and broken hearts. Jesus clearly taught such truth. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:3, 5).

Dear Lord Jesus, I do not want to walk the proud path to destruction that mighty Babylon took. I yield to Your promise against pride. My heart is broken and crushed, as I think of my sins and failures. I come to You in humility, throwing myself upon Your great promise of mercy and grace, in Your wonderful name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 19

A Precious Promise of God's Provision

By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises…And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (2 Peter 1:4 and Philippians 4:19)

In recent meditations, we have looked at two differing categories of promises: "exceedingly great and precious promises" and "unpopular" promises. Both play a vital role in God's plan. The first category of promises brings encouragement, comfort, and hope. The second category warns, convicts, and awakens. Both types are equally certain of fulfillment. Both types are to be heeded and embraced. For awhile now, let's alternately consider promises from these two categories.

Our present verses contain a promise of the first type. "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." The context of this promise concerns material provisions. "Now you Philippians know…no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities" (Philippians 4:15-16). The saints at the church in Philippi regularly gave of their financial resources that the Apostle Paul might concentrate on ministering the gospel. "Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God" (Philippians 4:18). Paul was abundantly supplied through their gifts. This generosity was also a pleasing spiritual sacrifice in the eyes of the Lord.

As He did with Paul, the Lord promises to meet the physical needs of all of His children. We can rely on His promised care for us. We do not need to worry or fret. "Do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things" (Matthew 6:31-32). Our faithful and loving Father is fully aware of our material needs, and He has committed Himself to supplying them. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). Our heavenly Father wants us to give our attention to seeking after Him, not after our needs. He wants us to be on a quest to know Him. He desires that we seek after His holy rule and His righteous ways. He will be faithful to "supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." He may typically use a paycheck to fulfill His promise, but He will supply our needs. Even if we are flat on our backs and unable to work, God is our faithful source.

Dear heavenly Father, I thank You for Your faithfulness in supplying my material needs through the years. Forgive me for doubting You at times, when it looked like the provision was not coming. Help me to seek You and not my needs, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 18

Another "Unpopular" Promise of Sin's Consequences

"So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 13:49-50)

Here are some more "unpopular" promises from Jesus. This series of promises intensifies the warning He gave in our previous meditation concerning the consequences of sin. "If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins" (John 8:24). Our present verses reveal by promise the absolute certainty and dreadful duration of sin's consequences. In a world that wants to deny accountability and ignore eternity, these are unpopular promises.

All who die in the guilt of sin will definitely be judged some day. It is an absolute certainty. A day of accountability is coming. "So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just." Those who die before this day will also face judgment. "It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). The place of final judgment for the unsaved will be the great white throne. "Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it…And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God…And the dead [the unredeemed dead] were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books…And they were judged, each one according to his works…And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev 20:11-15).

This absolutely certain judgment also has a dreadful duration. It is eternal. Sin is a spiritual crime against God. The true and living God is eternal. He is the great "I AM" (Exodus 3:14 and John 8:58). Therefore, the consequences of sin are also eternal. Thus, all unbelievers will be "cast into the lake of fire and brimstone…And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10). The ultimate torment of hell will be separation from God's presence for eternity. "These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord" (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

The absolute certainty and dreadful duration of the consequences of sin make earlier promises we have examined all the more critical. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord…And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish" (Romans 6:23 and John 10:28).

Everlasting Father, I know that I deserve eternal judgment due to my sins against You. I praise You for the gracious gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Use me to help others know of the reality of judgment and the availability of everlasting life, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 17

The Importance of God's "Unpopular" Promises

"Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." (John 8:24)

Generally speaking, God's promises are "popular" with many people. When most of the Lord's promises are read or taught, people are delighted. "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed…Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." (John 8:36; Matthew 11:28; and Matthew 4:19). Promises like these are so often received with favor, because they are so encouraging. They are embraced with approval, because they are so comforting. On the other hand, some of God's promises are definitely "unpopular" with certain segments of humanity. This type of promise is scorned or rejected because of its convicting or sobering character. Nevertheless, these promises that are not always well-received have great importance in God's plan.

One such promise is given two-fold in our present verse. "You will die in your sins… you will die in your sins." In a "tolerant" world that wants to deny the reality of sin and its consequences, this is an unpopular promise. Yet, the promise is true nonetheless. Sin brings spiritual death. From the beginning, this has been the case. "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, 'Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die'" (Genesis 2:16-17). This truth was restated by the prophets of Israel. "The soul who sins shall die" (Ezekiel 18:20). It was also repeated by the apostles in the early church. "For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). Since everyone has sinned, this warning by promise that Jesus gave applies to us all. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

To escape the inevitable consequences of sin, one must trust in Jesus as the promised, divine Savior. "If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." This statement ("I am He") points to Jesus' deity. Shortly thereafter, He openly declares that He is God, the Son. "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM" (John 8:58). Here, Jesus applies to Himself the same name that God revealed to Moses. "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you'" (Exodus 3:14). This important promise by Jesus warns that only faith in Him as the divine Savior will deliver a person from the certain consequences of sin.

Lord Jesus, I thank You for this important warning given by promise. I am delighted to have yielded to its truth and certainty. I rejoice that my sins are forgiven. Use me to pass on this promise to others who need to respond to it, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 16

The Promise of Freedom in Christ

"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." (John 8:36)

As mentioned previously, one way to examine the life of grace is to look at living by faith in the promises of God. Let us now proceed in our consideration of God's "exceedingly great and precious promises" (2 Peter 1:4). The promise of spiritual freedom in Christ is certainly a magnificent and priceless promise. Although we have already given considerable attention to the liberating work of the Lord, this promise gives another appropriate opportunity to meditate on this vital theme (which appears repeatedly throughout Scripture).

When people come in humility to the Lord Jesus Christ and trust in Him for freedom, they will be genuinely liberated. This is what the saving grace of God is all about. In coming to the Lord for His salvation, a person is delivered, rescued, set free. This gracious freedom that we find in Christ has both a "from" and an "unto" aspect. Those who look to Jesus for spiritual liberation are free to leave old things behind. They are also free to enter into corresponding new things.

Those who come to Christ are set free from death unto life. "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life" (John 5:24). Those who come to Christ are delivered from condemnation unto justification. "Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life" (Romans 5:18). Those who come to Christ are rescued from hell unto heaven. "Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?…Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you" (Matthew 23:33 and 1 Peter 1:3). Those who come to Christ are liberated from the bankruptcy of vain human resources unto the richness of abundant spiritual treasures. "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells…Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Romans 7:18 and Ephesians 1:3).

Dear Lord Jesus, You are the one who has truly set me free. I thank You that I am no longer spiritually dead, condemned, headed for hell, and limited to inadequate human resources. I praise You that I am alive in Christ, justified, headed for heaven, and enriched by all the resources of Your grace, Amen!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 15

The Promise of Freedom in Christ

"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." (John 8:36)

As mentioned previously, one way to examine the life of grace is to look at living by faith in the promises of God. Let us now proceed in our consideration of God's "exceedingly great and precious promises" (2 Peter 1:4). The promise of spiritual freedom in Christ is certainly a magnificent and priceless promise. Although we have already given considerable attention to the liberating work of the Lord, this promise gives another appropriate opportunity to meditate on this vital theme (which appears repeatedly throughout Scripture).

When people come in humility to the Lord Jesus Christ and trust in Him for freedom, they will be genuinely liberated. This is what the saving grace of God is all about. In coming to the Lord for His salvation, a person is delivered, rescued, set free. This gracious freedom that we find in Christ has both a "from" and an "unto" aspect. Those who look to Jesus for spiritual liberation are free to leave old things behind. They are also free to enter into corresponding new things.

Those who come to Christ are set free from death unto life. "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life" (John 5:24). Those who come to Christ are delivered from condemnation unto justification. "Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life" (Romans 5:18). Those who come to Christ are rescued from hell unto heaven. "Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?…Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you" (Matthew 23:33 and 1 Peter 1:3). Those who come to Christ are liberated from the bankruptcy of vain human resources unto the richness of abundant spiritual treasures. "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells…Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Romans 7:18 and Ephesians 1:3).

Dear Lord Jesus, You are the one who has truly set me free. I thank You that I am no longer spiritually dead, condemned, headed for hell, and limited to inadequate human resources. I praise You that I am alive in Christ, justified, headed for heaven, and enriched by all the resources of Your grace, Amen!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 14

Coming to the Lord for Edifying Grace

Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-5)

Coming to Jesus habitually for the grace that we need daily is at the heart of growing in grace. These closing verses of our previous meditation provide a profound example of this relational emphasis in the Christian life. The spiritual impact in view here is edification: "being built up." As we saw earlier, God's grace is the edifying resource for our lives. "And now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up" (Acts 20:32). Now we will look at the relational path that God has designed for accessing that edifying grace.

Jesus is likened here to a "living stone." He is solid and reliable, like a rock. Yet, a rock is lifeless, insensitive, unresponsive. Jesus is a "living stone." He is alive, tender, lovingly responsive. The Lord wants to build us up to be like Him (solid and stable, yet loving and caring). The Lord's way to build us up "as living stones" is to call us to an ongoing process of coming to Himself: "Coming to Him as to a living stone…you also, as living stones, are being built up." In order to practically grow "as living stones," we must be coming to the one who already is innately what He wants us to become. He alone can provide what is needed in our lives.

How do we come to Jesus in this manner? Well, again, it is a matter of relating to Him. When we get into the word of God, we are not merely looking for more biblical information. Jesus is the one we are to be seeking. When we are praying, we are not merely "saying our prayers." Jesus is the one in whose name we are praying and whose will and work we are seeking. When we are worshiping, we are not merely singing songs, we are singing to the Lord Himself. When we are going forth in ministry, we are not merely carrying out a valid task. We are looking to the Lord for enablement, while desiring to please and honor Him.

The more we come to Jesus in this way, to that extent His edifying grace will be building us up "a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

Dear Lord, You are the true living stone, stable and loving. So often I am unstable and unloving. I need to be built up as a living stone. I need to be more like You. Lord, help me to come to You daily, habitually. When I am studying the Scriptures, praying, worshiping, or serving, help me to seek You in and through it all, in Your mighty name I pray, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 13

Coming to the Lord for Grace

"Come to Me…and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me…and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)

Our previous meditation on the spiritual rest promised by Jesus provides an excellent opportunity to reflect again upon the relational aspect of living by the grace of God. God's grace does not abound toward us by means of some religious procedure. His grace flows into our lives as we walk in a developing relationship with Him. This is essential to understand, since it is "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 8:9) that we are to be experiencing.

It is in coming to the Lord, in relating to the Lord, that we find His grace at work in our lives. "Come to Me…Take My yoke… learn from Me." When we first come to Jesus in humble dependence, we find His grace forgives us of our sin and guilt. When we yoke up with Him, walking intimately with Him each day, we find His grace rescues us from religious, fleshly striving.

This pattern of coming to the Lord is prevalent in the Scriptures. Isaiah wrote of it concerning salvation. "Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other…Surely in the LORD I have righteousness and strength. To Him men shall come" (Isaiah 45:22, 24). Isaiah also declared that by simply coming to the Lord spiritual refreshment and life from God would be available. "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters…Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live" (Isaiah 55:1-3). Of course, Jesus restated this profound invitation concerning Himself. "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water" (John 7:37-38).

The Apostle Peter wrote of another significant issue for which we come to Jesus. "Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2:4-5). If we are going to access the grace that edifies our lives, we must consistently be coming to Jesus Christ, the Father's chosen and precious cornerstone.

Dear Lord, I praise You for the grace that I find every time I come to You in humble dependence. Coming to You, I am cleansed, sustained, refreshed, and built up. I am so thankful that Your grace is accessed through relationship with You and not through religious performance by me!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 12

Jesus Promising Spiritual Rest

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

Two of the Lord's "exceedingly great and precious promises" (2 Peter 1:4) are found in our present verses: "I will give you rest" and "you will find rest for your souls." These promises supplement well our earlier studies on God's promises and God's rest. The first promise pertains to justification and spiritual birth. The second pertains to sanctification and spiritual growth.

The first promise is addressed to those who are struggling under the burden of guilt and condemnation related to sin: "all you who labor and are heavy laden." This is where everyone begins their earthly trek. David testified of this common starting point for humanity. "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me" (Psalm 51:5).

In order to enjoy the benefits of this initial promise of rest, a person must bring their sin and guilt to Jesus. "Come to Me." The Lord Jesus can remove this load of guilt, because He carried that burden of sin for us on the cross. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). For all who come to Jesus in humble repentance, forgiveness is granted. The promise is fulfilled. "I will give you rest."

The second promise is addressed to those who have found the initial rest of forgiveness, but their soul is restless. They are struggling under the burden of trying to produce a godly life by their own fleshly resources. "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:3). They yearn for rescue from the crushing load of walking according to the flesh. "Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24).

In order to enjoy the benefits of this additional promise of rest, a person must yoke up with Jesus (walk with Him in daily intimacy). "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me." This yoke is not for the purpose of pulling half of the load (like the yoke placed upon two oxen). "My yoke is easy and My burden is light." This is a yoke of relationship and communion. "Learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart." Those who walk this path of growing communion with the Lord have this second promise fulfilled. "You will find rest for your souls."

Lord Jesus, I give You praise for granting me rest from the burden of sin's guilt and condemnation. Now, I seek You for that daily rest from a self-striving soul. I want to walk with You intimately, day by day, that I might learn of Your humble ways. I long to walk in humility and faith toward You, my Lord, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 11

Exceedingly Great and Precious Promises

By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises…And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." (2 Peter 1:4 and Matthew 4:19)

As we have seen, faith is the proper response to the promises of God. Let us now return to individual consideration of God's wonderful promises. They are so wonderful that the Scriptures describe them as "exceedingly great and precious." The promises of God (which are deserving of our trust) are "exceedingly great." They are far beyond magnificent. The Greek root behind this phrase provides the English prefix, "mega" (as in "mega-bomb" or "mega-celebrity"). The promises of God are also "precious." They are priceless. They are beyond what any human or temporal treasure could ever secure.

One of God's "exceedingly great and precious promises" is linked to Jesus' call to discipleship. This call was an invitation to come and pursue after Him. "And He said to them, 'Follow Me.'" The Lord Jesus wants people to develop a life with Him. He wants us to build a relationship with Him. For all who will humbly focus their days on earth in a quest after Him, Jesus makes this magnificent promise. "I will make you." As we follow after Him, we can count on His fulfilling the promise to remake us. These men He addressed were "fishers of fish." Jesus promised to make them "fishers of men." "From now on you will catch men" (Luke 5:10).

The critical point is that Jesus would be the one changing these men. In this situation, He speaks of changing them from those who caught fish (for a temporal fishing business) to those who would catch men (for the eternal kingdom of God). Yet, in every situation, He is the one to rely upon for a changed life. It is amazing what people (even believers in Jesus Christ) will do to try to change their lives. They will sign up for every new program that comes through town (or is offered over national television). They will commit themselves to years of humanistic, speculative therapy. They will follow gurus to every continent on earth. They will even make endless lists of promises to God to do better or try harder. Yet, all of this is to no avail. God's plan for transformation of life is to believe in His promise. "I will make you." God wants to be the cause that produces the effect of a transformed life. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:10).

Yes, by the grace of God, transformation of life is available by faith in the promises of God. If we are willing to humbly pursue after a developing relationship with the Lord of life, He promises to make us into what He wants us to be.

Lord Jesus, thank You for being so patient with me through all my futile attempts to change myself. Please remind me daily to seek after You, knowing that I can count on You to be transforming me into what You want me to be, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 10

Strengthened in Faith Regarding God's Promises

He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. (Romans 4:20-21)

Faith is the proper response to the promises of God. Also, our faith in God's promises can increase day by day, year by year. These present words offer helpful insight into being strengthened in faith regarding God's promises.

It is so often the case that the circumstances we are in cast doubt upon the promises God has made. This was certainly what happened to Abraham concerning his promised son, Isaac. It was obvious in God's first set of promises to Abraham that a son would be provided some day. "I will make you a great nation" (Genesis 12:2). Soon thereafter, the Lord promised that the land He had for Abraham would go to his seed. "Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, 'To your descendants I will give this land'" (Genesis 12:7). The years rolled by, and no son had arrived. Eventually, a son was specifically included in God's promises. "And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, 'This one [Eliezer, his servant] shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir'" (Genesis 15:4). Still, the years passed by without the arrival of the son.

Now, as Abraham approaches one hundred years of age, God repeats promises that necessitate a son. "When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, 'I am Almighty God…I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly …And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you'" (Genesis 17:1-2, 7). More time passes. Once again, the Lord restates His promise of a son. "Sarah your wife shall have a son" (Genesis 18:10). At this point, the Scriptures record the natural impossibility of this promise being fulfilled. "Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well-advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing" (Genesis 18:11).

Nevertheless, "[Abraham] did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith." How did he grow in faith? His circumstances gave reason to doubt: "his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb" (Romans 4:19). He focused upon the ability of God who had promised a son, and he was assured: "being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform."

Dear Lord, in the midst of my doubt-provoking circumstances, help me to focus upon Your limitless ability to fulfill all that You have promised to Your people, Amen

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 9

Another Proper Response to God's Promises

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, "In Isaac your seed shall be called," accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. (Hebrews 11:17-19)

As demonstrated in our previous meditation, Sarah eventually responded properly to God's promise of a son (to be given in her old age). "By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised" (Hebrews 11:11). In our present verses, Abraham represents another proper response to God's promises.

The setting was, undoubtedly, the greatest testing of Abraham's spiritual pilgrimage. God had made great promises to Abraham. They included a land, a great nation, a great King (the Messiah), and blessings available to all nations (salvation through the Messiah). In order to have these promises fulfilled, Abraham would have to receive the promised son. Like Sarah, Abraham stumbled somewhat along the way. He cooperated with Sarah in fleshly scheming to bring the promised son through their servant maid. "Then Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram …So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived" (Genesis 16:3-4). Also, like Sarah, he later laughed in unbelief. "Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, 'Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child'?" (Genesis 17:17). Nevertheless, God proved faithful and gave them Isaac. "And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age…And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him…Isaac" (Genesis 21:1-3).

Finally, after many years of waiting, the promised, necessary son had arrived. Yet, the Lord required that Isaac be placed upon the altar of God. He was the only son who could fulfill the promises: "his only begotten son, of whom it was said, 'In Isaac your seed shall be called'." Isaac must now be given back to God. By faith, Abraham did the impossible, placing his son on the altar. The ability of God was the truth upon which this act of faith depended: "accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense."

Lord God of resurrection, concerning the "Isaacs" in my life that You want upon the altar of Your will and Your timing, please help me to focus on Your ability to resurrect that which seems to be dead or dying, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 8

Once More on God's Promises and God's Rest

Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience…And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises…And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. (Hebrews 4:11; 6:11-12, 15)

Once again, God's promises and God's rest are in view. In these intriguing verses, two insightful terms are linked with the promises and the rest of God: diligence and patience. Although they sound contradictory, they are actually complementary.

For those who believe in the Lord Jesus, He promises spiritual rest. This rest begins with a divine rescue from the crushing burden of sin and guilt. Then, it is to develop into heavenly relief from the unbearable load of self-generated Christian living. Entering into this daily spiritual rest is neither an optional nor a casual matter. "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest." The Lord wants to stir and maintain in us an eagerness for this daily rest in Him. He wants us to earnestly and attentively seek Him for the rest that He alone can give. Our God wants to bring us along in a maturing assurance (a growing confidence in His promises). "And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end." If we are unwilling to cry out to the Lord for such diligence in seeking His rest daily, we will eventually become spiritually lethargic: "that you do not become sluggish." God's rest is designed to produce spiritual fervency, not laziness: "not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11).

Along with diligence in seeking God for the rest He promises, the Lord also wants to develop in us a patience regarding His promises. "Imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises…And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise." God does not want our spiritual diligence to deteriorate into anxiety and impatience. Yet, how can we grow in diligence and patience at the same time? How is it that the two are not mutually exclusive? Well, diligence concerns what God promises to do. We are to earnestly seek such. Patience concerns when God may desire to fulfill His promises. We are to patiently trust Him for His prefect timing.

Lord, I praise You for the wonderful realities that You have made available through Your promises. I want to seek You diligently for their fulfillment in my life. Yet, dear Lord, if I must wait an extended time on various issues, as Abraham did for his promised son, help me to be patient, trusting in Your wise timing, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 7

Once More on God's Promises and God's Rest

Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience…And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises…And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. (Hebrews 4:11; 6:11-12, 15)

Once again, God's promises and God's rest are in view. In these intriguing verses, two insightful terms are linked with the promises and the rest of God: diligence and patience. Although they sound contradictory, they are actually complementary.

For those who believe in the Lord Jesus, He promises spiritual rest. This rest begins with a divine rescue from the crushing burden of sin and guilt. Then, it is to develop into heavenly relief from the unbearable load of self-generated Christian living. Entering into this daily spiritual rest is neither an optional nor a casual matter. "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest." The Lord wants to stir and maintain in us an eagerness for this daily rest in Him. He wants us to earnestly and attentively seek Him for the rest that He alone can give. Our God wants to bring us along in a maturing assurance (a growing confidence in His promises). "And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end." If we are unwilling to cry out to the Lord for such diligence in seeking His rest daily, we will eventually become spiritually lethargic: "that you do not become sluggish." God's rest is designed to produce spiritual fervency, not laziness: "not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11).

Along with diligence in seeking God for the rest He promises, the Lord also wants to develop in us a patience regarding His promises. "Imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises…And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise." God does not want our spiritual diligence to deteriorate into anxiety and impatience. Yet, how can we grow in diligence and patience at the same time? How is it that the two are not mutually exclusive? Well, diligence concerns what God promises to do. We are to earnestly seek such. Patience concerns when God may desire to fulfill His promises. We are to patiently trust Him for His prefect timing.

Lord, I praise You for the wonderful realities that You have made available through Your promises. I want to seek You diligently for their fulfillment in my life. Yet, dear Lord, if I must wait an extended time on various issues, as Abraham did for his promised son, help me to be patient, trusting in Your wise timing, Amen

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 6

More on God's Promises and God's Rest

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. (Hebrews 4:9-10)

Included in God's promises is rest for His people. This rest not only begins with rest from the guilt and condemnation of sin, but it also can grow into rest from carnal striving and vain self-sufficiency. Our verses speak of this latter rest. "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God." When we became the people of God, we entered into God's rest from sin and guilt. Yet, having tasted of this rest, there still "remains…a rest for the people of God."

Entrance into this additional spiritual rest requires a ceasing from one's own works. "For he who has entered His [God's] rest has himself also ceased from his works." Renouncing one's self as the source or cause of spiritual growth, we can then rest in the Lord for a growing life of godly service and fruitfulness. Previously, we saw that the Apostle Paul walked with and lived unto God in this manner. "I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Corinthians 15:10). Paul worked harder than any other leader in the early church. Yet, he acknowledged that the enabling reality was the grace of God, not himself. This fits perfectly with another confession of Paul's that we considered in previous devotions. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God" (2 Corinthians 3:5). Ultimately, such a life is explained as Christ Himself expressing His life in and through our lives. "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).

This cessation from our works is to be as complete as God's ceasing from His work at creation. "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works…For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His" (Hebrews 4:4, 10). God rested on the seventh day, because His "creation-work" was finished. We are to rest from our works, because we cannot add to the finished work of Christ for us. He completed our redemption upon the cross. "He said, 'It is finished!' And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit" (John 19:30). He has also fully prepared the works that He wants us to now enter into by faith. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).

Lord, I see that I must rest in You for daily growth and service as fully as I rested in You for initial salvation. Help me to cease from my own vain striving, that I might trust in You to work in and through me, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 5

God's Promises and God's Rest

Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest. (Hebrews 4:1-3)

Through the promises of God, all who believe can experience spiritual rest. Initially, those who believe enjoy rest from the guilt and condemnation of sin. Additionally, those whose faith embraces other promises from God can enjoy rest from carnal striving and worldly indulgence.

When the children of Israel were delivered from Egypt, they had rest from the bondage they had known there. This pictures our rest from sin and guilt. Yet, the Lord had more rest to share with His people. He wanted to give them rest from the futile wilderness striving they experienced between Egypt and the Promised Land, the land flowing with milk and honey. This pictures how we can rest from the fleshly striving of doubt and disobedience by drawing upon the riches that are ours in Christ.

The Israelites wandered through the wilderness in hardness of heart for forty years. All of that generation (except Joshua and Caleb) missed the additional rest that God wanted them to experience. "Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.' So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest'" (Hebrews 3:10-11). They were out of Egypt, but they would not enter into the Promised Land.

Are we entering into the additional rest that God has for us? "Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it." The Promised Land is a picture of the abundant spiritual life (not a picture of heaven-no battles or failures in heaven). This additional rest is what Jesus offers to all who believe in Him. "I have come that they may have life [eternal life, forgiveness of sin], and that they may have it more abundantly [richness of life, growing in practical righteousness]" (John 10:10). This abundant life is enjoyed as we believe in the word of God, as it describes the riches that are ours in Christ. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3). Will we take the Lord at His word and believe that we might enter in? "For we who have believed do enter that rest." Israel did not believe, so they did not enter in. "The word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it."

Dear Lord, I thank You for giving me rest from sin and guilt, simply by trusting in Your promises. Now, I ask for new measures of additional rest from barrenness and striving, simply by trusting in Your promises of abundant life, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 4

Once More on God's Promises and God's Law

Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, "I have made you a father of many nations") in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did. (Romans 4:16-17)

We can have great certainty concerning the fulfillment of God's promises, because grace and faith are the foundation of our assurance. "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed." Grace is the heavenly resource behind all of God's promises. Faith is the simple means of accessing that grace. These realities make God's promises certain to all who believe them, whether Jew ("not only to those who are of the law") or Gentile ("but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham"). This is how Abraham related to God's promises. Thereby, he became the spiritual leader for all who would follow His example: "who is the father of us all (as it is written, 'I have made you a father of many nations') in the presence of Him whom he believed."

The true and living God, whom Abraham believed, makes two declarations here that strengthen our assurance in His promises. First, He is a God "who gives life to the dead." Consider the impact this attribute has on our confidence in God's promises. Often, the promises of God must overcome death (or deadening circumstances) in order to be fulfilled. The promise that Lazarus would live again was given while his dead body was lying in a tomb. "He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live" (John 11:25). Often, the deadness of our own circumstances wants to challenge the certitude of God's promises. Yet, the God who has made to us a multitude of promises is the God "who gives life to the dead."

Second, our God of promises is one who "calls those things which do not exist as though they did." We are not yet personally righteous (in any intrinsic sense). Yet, God calls us righteous (justified, declared righteous in Christ). "Whom He called, these He also justified" (Romans 8:30a). We are not yet glorified (experientially). Yet, God speaks of our glorification as already accomplished. "Whom He justified, these He also glorified" (Romans 8:30b). What a joy to know that our God of promises will bring to pass eventually that which He promises prophetically.

Lord, my heart is comforted, and my faith is strengthened by the undeniable certainty of Your promises. Death or deadness cannot prevent Your keeping of Your promises. Any lack of existence cannot keep You from bringing forth what You declare as real. What blessed assurance is available through Your promises—by grace through faith!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 3

Still More on God's Promises and God's Law

Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed. (Romans 4:16)

The Lord desires that we should have great certainty concerning His promises. Our God does not want us to be plagued with apprehension concerning the fulfillment of His promises. In all that God has promised, He intends for us to stand in bedrock assurance: "that the promise might be sure to all the seed." This certainty is based upon two sets of related truths: one between His promises and His grace, and another between His grace and faith in Him.

The first set of related truths mentioned here (that makes God's promises sure) is His promises and His grace. Living by God's promises allows us to walk in the all-sufficient grace of God. The heavenly dynamic behind the promises of God is the grace of God. If God's promises are to be sure in our lives, we must relate to them "according to grace." If we are counting on any other hope besides grace to make God's promises certain, we will never stand in full assurance of the promises being fulfilled. If God's promises depend upon our performance, we will never walk in full assurance. If His promises depend upon the faithfulness or ability of others, full assurance will always elude us. The fulfillment of God's promises depends wholly on His grace.

Now, how do we treat God's promises in a way that does not disregard the grace that is behind them? The only acceptable response is faith. "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace." Every other response creates a discord with grace. This was the great mistake that Abraham and Sarah made early in their pilgrimage with the Lord. When they relied upon their own ingenuity (using the slave girl, Hagar, to try to supply the son God had promised), they were operating outside the realm of dependence upon God. Basically, they were trusting in themselves.

Behind all of the promises of the gospel is the promised Savior, who would die on the cross for our sins. If we attempt to base God's saving work on our performance, we are setting aside God's grace. We are inferring that His death for us was unnecessary or inadequate. "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain" (Galatians 2:21).

Father God, what a marvelous plan You have for Your children! You lay out Your purposes by means of great promises. You put Your wondrous grace behind every promise. Then, You ask us to place our faith in You to graciously fulfill all that You have committed to do. Lord, what assurance this gives concerning Your promises!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 2

Even More on God's Promises and God's Law

For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect. (Romans 4:13-14)

These words from the book of Romans provide further consideration of God's promises and God's law. Abraham is again the person around whom the insights unfold.

God promised Abraham blessings beyond measure. "Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 28:14). These promises were not contingent upon Abraham's ability to follow God's holy law. "For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law." When God made these promises to Abraham, the law was still hundreds of years from being revealed. Likewise, these promises were not contingent upon circumcision (the sign of this covenant with Abraham). "And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe" (Romans 4:11). Circumcision was added after Abraham heard the promises and believed.

In these encounters with God, Abraham was being asked to put his trust and confidence in the Lord. "For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith." When Abraham believed in the promises of God, at that moment, God declared him righteous in His sight. "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness" (Romans 4:3). Abraham trusted in the Lord, and this gave him a right standing with God and allowed him to enter into God's promises.

The only other option to "God-dependent faith" would be "self-dependent law performance." Such an approach to God would be totally unacceptable. "For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect." Attempting to merit God's promises by law performance says we view faith in Him as meaningless. Striving to earn what God has pledged to provide says we consider His promises as ineffectual.

Dear Lord, forgive me for my frequent attempts to accomplish by my performance that which You offer by promise. Lord, I see that this shows disdain for faith in You and for Your promises to me. Please give me a fresh new awareness of the excellence of faith and the power of Your promises, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - August 1

God's Promises and God's Law

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ. And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise. (Galatians 3:16-18)

Early in our meditations, we considered one of the most profound subjects in the Scriptures: the relationship between the grace of God and the law of God. These verses engage a comparable subject: the relationship between God's promises and God's law.

Again, we are reminded of God's fundamental use of promises in bringing forth His will among mankind. "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made." God made far-reaching promises to Abraham and his descendants, promises that included the coming of the Messiah, the anointed King, the Savior. Although these promises guaranteed an innumerable posterity to Abraham, this statement specifies one descendant in particular. "He does not say, 'And to seeds,' as of many, but as of one, 'And to your Seed,' who is Christ." The Lord Jesus Christ is in view here. The promises that were the root of the new covenant of grace were made by the Father to His Messiah (as well as to Abraham). "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made." God provides us added assurance here. The Father's primary commitment was to His Son!

Now, what about the law of God, which was added hundreds of years later? Could the law possibly have replaced the promises to Abraham and to the Son of God? "And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ." The promises of God to Abraham and to His Son were not nullified by the giving of the law of God ("that it should make the promise of no effect" ). People, through their own law performance, cannot become heirs of that which God promises to His children. If they could, then God's blessings are no longer based on God's fulfillment of His promises. "For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise." This cannot be, because "God gave it to Abraham by promise." God's work among mankind stands on His ability to fulfill His promises. It does not depend on our ability to live up to the perfect law of God.

Dear Father, my heart is assured of these promises of blessing for man that you made to Your Son. My heart rejoices that Your work in my life rests on Your promises and not on my performance, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - July 31

The Gentiles Included as Children of Promise

That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel…that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Ephesians 3:6 and Galatians 3:14)

There are monumental implications when we become children of promise through faith in the promises of God. One of the consequences of outstanding significance is highlighted in our present verses. It involves the Gentiles.

It is quite obvious in the Old Testament that God had great plans for the Jews (for Israel, His chosen people). "'And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel" (Exodus 19:6). God's plans ultimately included the Gentiles (the nations of the world). "Oh, praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!…The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising" (Psalm 117:1 and Isaiah 60:3). Nevertheless, the Jewish people would have a special place in God's purposes. "For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth" (Deuteronomy 14:2).

In light of these Old Testament truths regarding Israel, imagine what an astounding revelation it was when the Holy Spirit began to unfold, through the Apostle Paul, the full participation that the Gentiles would have in the promises of God: "That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs." By believing in the promises of God, the Gentiles would have full partnership shares ("fellow heirs" ) in the inheritance of God for His people. The Gentiles would also be "of the same body." This body that included Gentiles and Jews was the church of Jesus Christ. "And He is the head of the body, the church" (Colossians 1:18). Jew and Gentile would comprise one new unit, the church. There is no longer a separation. Also, the Gentiles would be "partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel." Through the promises of the gospel of grace, Gentiles would share fully in eternal life, daily blessing, and intimate access to the Lord. By faith in the God of Abraham, the Gentiles would also enjoy (along with any Jew who believed in Jesus as Messiah) the promise of the Spirit: "that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." Yes, now the Holy Spirit would dwell in the lives of all who would believe-not only the Jew, but also the Gentile!

Lord God of Israel, I praise You for being the God of believing Gentiles as well. How glorious is Your grace—how mighty are Your promises—Jews and Gentiles sharing in common the realities of God that are freely given to all who believe in Jesus Christ!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - July 30

The Gentiles Included as Children of Promise

That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel…that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Ephesians 3:6 and Galatians 3:14)

There are monumental implications when we become children of promise through faith in the promises of God. One of the consequences of outstanding significance is highlighted in our present verses. It involves the Gentiles.

It is quite obvious in the Old Testament that God had great plans for the Jews (for Israel, His chosen people). "'And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel" (Exodus 19:6). God's plans ultimately included the Gentiles (the nations of the world). "Oh, praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!…The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising" (Psalm 117:1 and Isaiah 60:3). Nevertheless, the Jewish people would have a special place in God's purposes. "For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth" (Deuteronomy 14:2).

In light of these Old Testament truths regarding Israel, imagine what an astounding revelation it was when the Holy Spirit began to unfold, through the Apostle Paul, the full participation that the Gentiles would have in the promises of God: "That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs." By believing in the promises of God, the Gentiles would have full partnership shares ("fellow heirs" ) in the inheritance of God for His people. The Gentiles would also be "of the same body." This body that included Gentiles and Jews was the church of Jesus Christ. "And He is the head of the body, the church" (Colossians 1:18). Jew and Gentile would comprise one new unit, the church. There is no longer a separation. Also, the Gentiles would be "partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel." Through the promises of the gospel of grace, Gentiles would share fully in eternal life, daily blessing, and intimate access to the Lord. By faith in the God of Abraham, the Gentiles would also enjoy (along with any Jew who believed in Jesus as Messiah) the promise of the Spirit: "that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." Yes, now the Holy Spirit would dwell in the lives of all who would believe-not only the Jew, but also the Gentile!

Lord God of Israel, I praise You for being the God of believing Gentiles as well. How glorious is Your grace—how mighty are Your promises—Jews and Gentiles sharing in common the realities of God that are freely given to all who believe in Jesus Christ!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - July 29

More on God's Children by God's Promises

Those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. For this is the word of promise: "At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son"…Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise…As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." (Romans 9:8-9; Galatians 4:28; and Colossians 2:6)

Once again, our verses reveal a God of promises, who brings forth spiritual children of promise. This truth not only dictates how we enter the family of God, it also determines how we are to live as the children of God.

Ishmael could not be counted as the true seed of Abraham, because he was the product of fleshly ingenuity. "Those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God." Only Isaac could be called the true seed. "But the children of the promise are counted as the seed." This is true concerning us as well. We became God's children through faith in the promise of the gospel. "As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12). We could not be saved by any fleshly provision: "Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13). Isaac was born through faith in the promises of God. "For this is the word of promise: 'At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.'" We also were born again through faith in the promises of God. "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise."

Children of promise are spiritually birthed by promise and spiritually developed by promise. Now that we have been born into God's family by faith in His promises, we are to live day by day in the same way that we became His children. "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." The parallel is simple and straightforward: "As… so." As we were saved, so we are to walk. We started out with the Lord by faith in the life-giving promise of the gospel. "And this is the promise that He has promised us-eternal life" (1 John 2:25). We are to live each day by faith in the life-developing promises that are inherent to the gospel. "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38).

Heavenly Father, thank You for making me a child of promise—born again through faith in Your life-giving promises. O Lord, teach me to live day by day in this same manner—sustained and transformed by trusting in Your life-developing promises, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - July 28

God's Children by God's Promises

For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise…Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. (Galatians 4:22-23, 28)

Our God is a God of promises. He characteristically works by making and fulfilling promises. We are His children. We are children of promise. We were birthed spiritually into God's family through faith in His promises. Two sons of Abraham (Ishmael and Isaac) provide a vivid contrast that attests our sonship by promise.

God had promised to make Abraham a mighty nation, through which would come the Messianic seed that would bless all nations. "I will make you a great nation…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 12:1-2). Yet, the years passed by, and Abraham was still without a son. Eventually, he implied to God that his servant would have to be the beginning of this promised seed. "Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house [Eliezer, his servant] is my heir!" (Genesis 15:3). However, the Lord clarified His promise to give Abraham a true son, sired from his own body. "This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir" (Genesis 15:4). As time passed, the aging couple decided that they would have to come up with another alternative for God. "Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children…So Sarai said to Abram, 'See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.' And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai. So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived" (Genesis 16:1-2, 4). Thus, Ishmael was born as the result of Abraham's and Sarah's ingenuity: "But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh."

Thereafter, the Lord reiterated His promise of a son. "My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year" (Genesis 17:21). As God promised, so He did. "And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had spoken" (Genesis 21:1). Thus, Isaac was birthed as a result of God's promises. This is a picture of the only possible way that we could ever have become God's children, by His fulfilling of His promises. "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise."

Dear Father, the God of promises, I praise You for promising salvation to all who would believe. I rejoice in being a child of promise. Lord, no effort or ingenuity of my flesh could have ever given me a place in Your family. Please teach me to live by Your promises, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - July 27

Once More on God's Faithfulness and His Promises

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

This magnificent benedictory prayer closes with another proclamation of God's faithfulness, coupled with a strategic promise from the Lord. "He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it." What has our faithful God called us to, and what is He promising to do?

The Lord has called us to sanctification and blamelessness (that is, a life of increasing personal righteousness). "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor" (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4). It is the will of God that His children grow in a sanctified life (that is, to be set apart increasingly for the glory, honor, and use of God). The particular issue in view here is sexual purity: "that you should abstain from sexual immorality."

Another term for this godly goal is blamelessness. "May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." As we live unto the Lord day by day (awaiting His return), He wants us to develop in Christlikeness. He desires that there be less and less reason for people to point a finger of blame at us: "that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world" (Philippians 2:15).

How is this desire of the Lord to be accomplished? It is to be done by the work of our faithful God, who promises to do such. "He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it." What is the Lord's means in advancing this process? It is His word. Jesus revealed this in His prayer for us as He approached the cross. "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17). Our Lord wants to unleash the power of His word in our lives, changing the way we think and act. He wants to use His word to set us apart for Himself. The Apostle Paul wrote of this powerful spiritual process in referring to Jesus' intentions for His church: "that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:26). Will we humbly and dependently cooperate with our Lord in this desire of His heart for us?

Lord God of holiness, I long to be set apart more and more for Your glory, honor, and use. I yearn for more godliness in my daily life. I humbly ask You to transform my heart and mind by the power of Your holy word. You are faithful! Please do it, Lord!

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Day By Day By Grace - July 26

Once More on God's Faithfulness and His Promises

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

This magnificent benedictory prayer closes with another proclamation of God's faithfulness, coupled with a strategic promise from the Lord. "He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it." What has our faithful God called us to, and what is He promising to do?

The Lord has called us to sanctification and blamelessness (that is, a life of increasing personal righteousness). "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor" (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4). It is the will of God that His children grow in a sanctified life (that is, to be set apart increasingly for the glory, honor, and use of God). The particular issue in view here is sexual purity: "that you should abstain from sexual immorality."

Another term for this godly goal is blamelessness. "May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." As we live unto the Lord day by day (awaiting His return), He wants us to develop in Christlikeness. He desires that there be less and less reason for people to point a finger of blame at us: "that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world" (Philippians 2:15).

How is this desire of the Lord to be accomplished? It is to be done by the work of our faithful God, who promises to do such. "He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it." What is the Lord's means in advancing this process? It is His word. Jesus revealed this in His prayer for us as He approached the cross. "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17). Our Lord wants to unleash the power of His word in our lives, changing the way we think and act. He wants to use His word to set us apart for Himself. The Apostle Paul wrote of this powerful spiritual process in referring to Jesus' intentions for His church: "that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:26). Will we humbly and dependently cooperate with our Lord in this desire of His heart for us?

Lord God of holiness, I long to be set apart more and more for Your glory, honor, and use. I yearn for more godliness in my daily life. I humbly ask You to transform my heart and mind by the power of Your holy word. You are faithful! Please do it, Lord!

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Day By Day By Grace - July 25

Even More on God's Faithfulness and His Promises

The Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

Perhaps, a word of reflection upon our context would be helpful. In our daily studies on growing in the grace of God, we have been looking at the promises of God. Living by God's promises is comparable to living by His grace. In both perspectives, the critical matter is having God at work in our lives, doing what He alone can do, doing what we could never deserve or never produce on our own. In considering God's promises, we have allowed the Lord to increase our confidence in His promises by focusing first on His ability, and now on His faithfulness. Our present verse proclaims God's faithfulness, while adding a two-fold promise concerning high priority issues of Christian living.

The faithfulness of God is one of the grand themes of Scripture. "The Lord is faithful." Our God is reliable, so we can rely upon Him and His abundant promises. "God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Corinthians 1:9). The true and eternal God, who has invited us into an intimate relationship with His Son, is trustworthy, so we can trust in Him and His bountiful promises.

For example, we can trust in His promise to bring spiritual stability to our lives. "The Lord is faithful, who will establish you." This is one of the major needs in people's lives. On our own, we can easily be unstable and inconsistent. The Lord wants to turn us into responsible and steadfast servants of God. He will be faithful to do this, if we humbly open our hearts to the work of His word and His Spirit.

Another example of how God wants to demonstrate His faithfulness is in protecting us from the evil one. "The Lord is faithful, who will…guard you from the evil one." We are God's sheep. "Know that the LORD, He is God…We are His people and the sheep of His pasture" (Psalm 100:3). Our enemy is like a lion, who wants to consume us. "Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). Sheep do not do well against lions. However, we have a wonderful shepherd, who will not flee when the attack comes. "The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own" (John 10:13-14).

Our Lord wants us to know that we can count on Him to be faithful to keep His promises to establish us and to guard us.

Dear Lord, my Good Shepherd, on my own I am as vulnerable as a sheep and as unsteady as ater. In light of Your faithfulness, I rely upon Your promises to protect me from the enemy and to build into my life spiritual stability.

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Day By Day By Grace - July 24

More on God's Faithfulness and His Promises

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

When we are considering the promises of God, it is invaluable to keep His faithfulness in view. Our present verse helps us focus on the faithfulness of God, while offering more promises from our God of promises.

The setting for our meditation is temptations (or, testings). "No temptation has overtaken you." It is interesting to note that this word translated temptation could also be rendered as "testing." This gives insight into the question frequently raised during difficult times: "Is this the enemy, or is this the Lord?" In the midst of the battles of life, the enemy of our souls wants to tempt us into wrong responses like doubt, fear, or compromise. On the other hand, in the same battles, the Lord wants to test us (to exercise our faith). Appropriately, this one term can be used for both situations. Thus, in any temptation or testing, we can be assured that our struggles are not unique. "No temptation [or, testing] has overtaken you except such as is common to man." Whatever our struggle, the Lord has dealt with it innumerable times before.

More significant than the commonplace nature of our difficulties is the faithfulness of God: "but God is faithful." This is the pivotal issue in our impossibilities. Too often, we find ourselves fainting at the challenges that we face. We sense our own unreliability. We are concerned that we may prove unfaithful. God wants us to concentrate on His faithfulness.

After reminding us of God's faithfulness, the Spirit brings forth two promises that provide hope to those in temptations and testings. First, God will not allow battles that are inappropriate for our stage of spiritual growth. He"will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able." Second, God will eventually provide a way out of the battle. He "will also make the way of escape." If we respond in godly faith to the enemy's "mortar shells," the Lord will not allow him to destroy us. Whatever the difficulty involves, the Lord will see us through ("that you may be able to bear it"). We can count on God fulfilling these promises, because "God is faithful."

Dear Lord, thank You for exposing the lie of the enemy that my trials are unique. Thank You for promising to see me through and bring me out. Lord, help me to rest my expectations on Your faithfulness, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - July 23

God's Faithfulness and His Promises

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)

Previously, we reflected upon God's ability in conjunction with His promises. The capability of the one making promises is strategic when promises are made. When relating God's ability to His promises, we have full assurance that He can fulfill what He has promised to do. "Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You…Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?" (Jeremiah 32:17, 27). Our Lord created all the universe, and He is ruler over all of humanity. Surely, He is able to fulfill all of His promises.

Now, we have another issue to consider: faithfulness. When promises are made, faithfulness is just as important as ability. It is vital to know that the one promising is not only able, but is also reliable. In our present verse, we are given reason to exercise unwavering confidence in God, based upon His faithfulness. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful."

In the book of Hebrews, we are given a recurring call to stand firm in the hope of the Lord. To participate more and more in the reality of being God's spiritual household here on earth, we are to confidently embrace throughout our pilgrimage the hope that is available in our Lord: "whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end" (Hebrews 3:6). To fully partake of all that is ours in Christ, we are to persistently cling to Him by faith right up to our last days on earth. "For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end" (Hebrews 3:14).

Our present verse also stresses persistent faith in the hope of the Lord. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering." This persistence of trust in God is related to His promises and His faithfulness. "For He who promised is faithful." We can cling tightly to the promises of God. We can confidently hope in God's fulfilling His promises to us. We do not need to waver in doubt, because God is reliable. He is trustworthy. He is faithful.

Dear God of faithfulness, how delightful to realize that my persistence of faith in You hinges on Your faithfulness toward me. I see that I can continue to depend upon You, because you are fully faithful to me. What expectation this gives me as I consider Your great promises! You will be faithful to fulfill every one of them, as I place my trust in You!

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Day By Day By Grace - July 22

The Lord Promising a New Heaven and New Earth

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance…Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:9, 13)

In our previous meditation, we considered Jesus' promise to return for His people. "I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:3). Many centuries have come and gone with that promise remaining unfulfilled. Consequently, some are inclined to scoff at this promise. The Scriptures have prepared us for this by giving us another promise. "Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days…saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation'" (2 Peter 3:3-4). Nevertheless, we who believe God's promises are convinced that He will keep His word and return for us. When He returns, He will fulfill another promise as well: the promise of a new heaven and new earth. "Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells."

Two insights are offered here concerning the Lord's delay in His return. The first one pertains to God's compassion and patience in allowing more opportunity for people to repent and not perish. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise…but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." The second insight pertains to God's perspective on time. For our eternal Lord, it is as though He made the promise of His return only a couple of days ago! "But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2 Peter 3:8).

Yet, some day the Lord will fulfill His promise to return for us. Then, the new, eternal reality will come. "Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." It is delightful to consider! "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth…And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away'" (Revelation 21:1-4).

Dear Lord, I eagerly await Your appearing. I rejoice at the place You have prepared for us—a place of righteousness, joy, and peace. Above all, I anticipate dwelling in Your visible presence forever and ever, Amen!

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Day By Day By Grace - July 21

The Lord Promising to Return for Us

"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:1-3)

Jesus' promise to return for His followers was given to bring them heavenly comfort. How comforting to us, in this troublesome world, to know that Jesus will be back for all of us who have followed Him here on earth.

When the Lord Jesus spoke these words, He would soon be leaving His disciples. He knew that the cross, the resurrection, and His ascension were close at hand. As He spoke of His departure, they were troubled. "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me." One purpose in His leaving was to make ready a heavenly home for those who believed in Him. "I go to prepare a place for you." Then, the promise that followed brought Jesus' ultimate comfort. "I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." Jesus would be returning to take His beloved followers to be with Him again.

After His atoning death and victorious resurrection, the Lord instructed the disciples for a brief season in the matters of His kingdom. Then, it was time to depart. "Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight" (Acts 1:9). Their gaze remained upon this one whom they had come to love. "They looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up" (Acts 1:10). Then, angelic messengers repeated the promise of His return. "This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11). What hope this must have stirred in their yearning hearts.

Throughout the history of the church, loving hearts have longed for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostles were inspired by the Spirit of God to bring us comforting promises of His return. "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). This is the promised hope we are to live in day by day: "looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).

Dear Lord Jesus, I find sweet comfort in Your promises to return for me. I long to see You face to face. It is inexpressible joy to anticipate being with You forever. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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Day By Day By Grace - July 20

Answered Prayer Promised in Jesus' Name

"And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it." (John 14:13-14)

We who belong to the Lord have a great invitation to thoroughly express our hearts to Him in humble, dependent prayer. "Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him" (Psalm 62:8). We also have a great need to speak to Him. "Without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). We also have great promises of answered prayer. "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do…If you ask anything in My name, I will do it."

When the people of God are prayerless, they do not receive from the Lord all that He wants to give to them. "You do not have because you do not ask" (James 4:2). At times, God's children pray, but they still do not receive from the Lord. "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures" (James 4:3). Their prayers are anchored in their own wills and interests. True praying is to be anchored in the will of God. "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him" (1 John 5:14-15).

At this juncture, the Scriptures are vital in our daily prayer life. God's word directs us in praying according to the will of God. "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you" (John 15:7). As we are abiding in (depending upon) Christ, we will want His word to have full sway in our lives. As we consistently get into His word, the Scriptures shape our thoughts and our desires. Consequently, we ask what the Lord teaches us to desire. In that beautiful biblical setting, He promises to give us whatever we ask.

All of this describes the essence of praying in the name of Jesus. Praying in Jesus' name is not merely a formula of words with which to conclude our prayers. Whether we verbalize that phrase or not, it is about praying as Jesus would pray (always concerned with the will of His Father). It is about praying based on all that the word teaches concerning the person and work of the Lord Jesus on our behalf. Those who pray this way enjoy the certainty of these great promises of answered prayer, and they see much glory brought to God. "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it."

Lord Jesus, thank You for these great promises of answered prayer. Teach me to pray in Your name. Please shape my praying by all that Your word reveals concerning Your will and Your work on my behalf. In Your precious name, I pray, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - July 19

More Truth to Deliver Us from the Law

Now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. (Galatians 4:9-10)

In our last meditation, we saw that the Lord's promise of liberating truth includes truth to deliver us from the law. If we are going to be justified (declared not guilty and pronounced righteous in Christ), we must be delivered from the law (which condemns us, pronounces us guilty of sin). We are rescued from the law by placing our faith in the Lord Jesus, thereby receiving His justifying grace. "We have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law" (Galatians 2:16).

Through this exercise of faith, we come to know the Lord. At this point, many Christians return to a religious striving-under-law performance, assuming they can grow in sanctification by their own dedicated efforts. "Now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements?" These words from Galatians repeat a major theme of that revolutionary letter: the power and richness of grace contrasted with the weakness and poverty ("the weak and beggarly elements") of the law. The grace of God, that was powerful enough to bring us justification, is the only option powerful enough to provide us daily sanctification (growth in godly living). The grace of God, that was abundantly rich unto the saving of our souls, is the only resource rich enough to effect the transforming of our heart and character. God's law was never intended to provide the heavenly power or riches needed for justification. Neither was the law intended to do such for sanctification.

The futility of producing godliness through the law can be seen in the Galatians' vain hope that observing religious holy days would empower them spiritually. "You observe days and months and seasons and years." Far from liberation, this was a return to religious enslavement. "You desire again to be in bondage." God's people are certainly free to celebrate days that may have spiritual significance to them. "One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind" (Romans 14:5). We are not to require or prohibit the observance of days. Nevertheless, if our hope is in religious observances, we are heading into religious bondage, not into spiritual liberty.

Dear Lord, I rejoice in the power and richness of Your grace that has brought me justification from sin! I humbly cry out to You for a daily supply of Your powerful and rich sanctifying grace. Convict me when I am leaning upon the weak and beggarly elements of law performance, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - July 18

Truth to Deliver Us from the Law

The law has dominion over a man as long as he lives…But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. (Romans 7:1, 6)

In the word of God, the Lord has promised truth which brings spiritual liberation. "The truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). We have considered such truths that set people free from bondage to sin, from bondage to the fear of death, and from bondage to the influence of the evil one. Now, we will look at another category of liberating truth: truth to deliver us from the law.

This issue pertains to everyone initially, because we all begin under bondage to the law. "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God" (Romans 3:19). Everyone who has ever lived, is living now, or will live in the days to come ("all the world") is initially held in a state of condemnation ("guilty before God"), because of their sin. This guilty condition would persist for a lifetime, if God did not supply a remedy. "The law has dominion over a man as long as he lives." However, this condition need not persist, because the Lord's word proclaims liberating truth for this drastic need. "But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by." The person we were at physical birth died on the cross with Christ, when we believed in Him. The new creature in Christ now stands justified by faith in Christ (not by law performance). "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified [declared not guilty, pronounced righteous in Christ] by faith apart from the deeds of the law" (Romans 3:28).

All of God's children have experienced these liberating truths, as they apply to justification (our eternal righteous standing before God in heaven). However, many of God's people are unaware of deliverance from the bondage of the law concerning sanctification (our daily growth in personal, practical godliness on earth). This matter is repeatedly addressed in the word of God. Here, in one of our primary verses for meditation, we see these truths given a sanctification implication. "Now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter." Yes, understanding the truth of deliverance from the law determines whether we will struggle in bondage to law performance, or live freely by the ongoing, fresh work of the Spirit of God.

Dear Lord of deliverance, I worship You for delivering me from the condemnation of the law, by grace through faith. Teach me how to live daily by grace through faith, that I might be practically delivered from law performance as I serve You, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - July 17

Truth to Set Us Free from the Enemy's Bondage

"If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free"…that they may know the truth… and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him. (John 8:31-32 and 2 Timothy 2:25-26)

As followers of Jesus Christ, it is so important that we abide in His word. We are called to live in the word of the Lord that we might know His truth. As we embrace God's truth, we are impacted by its liberating power. "The truth shall make you free." One fundamental area where people need spiritual liberation is bondage from the enemy.

The entire realm of unbelieving humanity lies under the binding influence of the evil one. "The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one" (1 John 5:19). Even those unbelievers who do not accept the truths of God about Satan and sin are nonetheless captivated by him. Consequently, we are to humbly reach out to them with the truth: "in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will." Paul was sent forth to proclaim the gospel truth that offers freedom from such bondage: "to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God" (Acts 26:18). The testimony of all who believe in the truth of the gospel is this: "He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love" (Colossians 1:13).

The problem of Satan's binding, hindering, restricting influence did not end at salvation. Many saints (though headed for heaven) are still bound in areas of their thinking and behaving. They are still influenced by the enemy's lies. They cannot make the liberating confession of Paul and his missionary team: "we are not ignorant of his [Satan's] devices" (2 Corinthians 2:11). Ignorance of the enemy's tactics will persist in the lives of those who do not know (or will not yield to) God's liberating truth. On the other hand, all who are willing to embrace the truths of God's word will enjoy more and more freedom from the enemy's lies. They will grow in understanding of, and reliance upon, the victorious purposes of Jesus' coming to this earth. "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8 ).

Dear Lord, I praise You for the liberating truth of Your gospel of grace that delivered me from the enemy's grasp. Now, I need more and more of the liberating truths of Your word that I might not be ignorant of his devious and persistent tactics. Teach me Your truths, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - July 16

The Truth Promised to Set Us Free

"If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31-32)

As we have seen, the Holy Spirit is promised as our guide into all the truths of God's word. "When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all the truth" (John 16:13). A related promise assures us that this truth will have a liberating impact upon our lives. "The truth shall make you free." This promise of spiritual liberation through the truths of God's word is such a vital one for man, because various forms of spiritual bondage threaten us all.

Everyone needs liberation from bondage to sin. Those who first heard this promise of Jesus needed instruction on this. "We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, 'You will be made free'? Jesus answered them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin'" (John 8:33-34). This "whoever" includes us all, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). However, we can all praise God that His liberating truth can set us free from the bondage to sin. All who trust in the Lord Jesus are justified from their sins (declared righteous in God's sight) through the redemption price of the blood of Christ: "being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth to be a propitiation [satisfactory payment for sin] by His blood, through faith" (Romans 3:24-25).

The fear of death is another bondage from which people need liberation. Hebrews speaks of those "who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Hebrews 2:15). What a tormenting bondage is the fear of death! Yet, Jesus' liberating truth can deal with this bondage as well. "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26). All who believe in the one who is resurrection life will live forever. Even if they should experience physical death, the grave has no grip on them. In fact, though their bodies may go into a tomb, they would go immediately into the presence of the Lord. "We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8).

Dear God of truth, I rejoice in the freedom that comes through Your truth! Thank You for setting me free from the bondage of condemnation and judgment that I deserved because of my sin. I praise You for liberation from the fear of death. May I live victoriously by these truths and pass them on to others who need to be set free, in Your holy name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - July 15

The Spirit Promised to Glorify Jesus

"When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all the truth…He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you"…Now we have received…the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. (John 16:13-14 and 1 Corinthians 2:12)

The promised teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit guides us into all the truths of the word of God. "When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all the truth." As the Spirit fulfills this promise, He especially wants to unfold God's truth in ways that will glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. "He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you." The desire of the Holy Spirit is to bring glory and honor, not to Himself, but to the Lord Jesus Christ. "But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me" (John 15:26).

One basic way the Spirit glorifies Jesus is by revealing to us (and bringing into our growing experiential knowledge) the free heavenly riches that are ours in Christ. "Now we have received…the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God." This is the language of grace: "freely given to us." The wonders of God's grace are poured out freely: "being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed upon us in the Beloved" (Romans 3:24 and Ephesians 1:6, NASB). What man deserves (and has earned by his own sin and offenses) is judgment. However, Christ supplies at His cost (His death for us) the free remedy of eternal life. "But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many…For the wages of sin is death, but the [free] gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 5:15; 6:23).

These freely given things of everlasting life include far more than the precious gift of forgiveness. "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32). We are to freely drink from a river of blessings (including, peace, hope, fruit, gifts, victory, etc.) throughout time-and even for all eternity. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts… and let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely" (Revelation 21:6; 22:17).

Lord Jesus, these freely given things of God, revealed to me by Your Spirit through Your word, cause me to glorify You greatly. Please teach me to freely drink of these riches yet more and more, through humble dependence upon You, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - July 14

The Lord Promising His Spirit to Teach Us

"The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things…When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all the truth." (John 14:26 and 16:13)

We have been meditating upon the Lord's promise to build His church. "I will build My church" (Matthew 16:18). One aspect of this promise is the qualitative development of the spiritual life of God's people. To properly develop spiritually, the Lord's people need to learn the truths of His word. The Holy Spirit is promised to us to fulfill that need.

The coming of the Spirit (in His ministry as Helper to the church) was a matter of promise: "The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name." When the Father would fulfill this promise (on the day of Pentecost), one of the primary purposes would be the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. "He will teach you all things." This teaching work of the Spirit leads us into all the truths of the word of God. "He will guide you into all the truth." This role harmonizes with one of the titles of the Spirit: "When He, the Spirit of truth, has come."

We must have the teaching ministry of the Spirit in our lives. We cannot learn the truths of God on our own intellectual capabilities. "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the LORD. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts'" (Isaiah 55:8). The thoughts and ways of God are as far above our thoughts and ways as the heavens are above the earth. Jesus gave similar insight concerning the heavenly kingdom that He invited people to enter. "My kingdom is not of this world…My kingdom is not from here" (John 18:36). Consequently, we need the Holy Spirit to be our teacher concerning this kingdom.

God loves us beyond measure. The death of His Son demonstrates that without question. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). For all who will come by faith and, thereby, love Him in return, He offers blessings far beyond what human minds can grasp. "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Corinthians 2:9). Yet, these wonders can be known. "But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit" (1 Corinthians 2:10). These spiritual treasures in the word of God are to be unfolded to us by the Spirit of God.

Lord God of great promises, thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit. I need Your Spirit to teach me the wondrous realities of Your kingdom. As I humbly approach Your word, guide me into all the truths You want me to know and to live, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - July 13

More on the Lord Promising to Build His Church

"I will build My church." (Matthew 16:18)

This promise has monumental implications for every follower of Jesus Christ. "I will build My church." Each of the five words in this brief declaration reveals an essential truth of Christian life and service.

First, this promise discloses who will build the church. "I [Jesus]will build My church." Jesus is the builder of the church, not man. He wants to use us in the process, but He is the builder. Paul understood this arrangement. "According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation" (1 Corinthians 3:10). By the grace of God, Paul served the Lord. As he went about proclaiming Christ, the Lord was using him to lay the foundation (Christ) in lives that were being saved and individual churches that were being started.

Second, Jesus' promise reveals the certainty of His church being built. "I will [assuredly] build My church." There is no room for doubt. Jesus will do what He is promising. The only question for us is whether or not we will be available as a part of this wondrous process. The Lord wants to make us usable for His work: "sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work" (2 Timothy 2:21).

Third, this promise indicates the manner in which the Lord wants to work. "I will build [construct] My church." As with any construction project, there are both the quantitative and qualitative aspects. The Lord saves souls, adding them to His church in a quantitative increase. "And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved" (Acts 2:47). The Lord also enriches those He saves, bringing to His church qualitative development. "And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all" (Acts 4:33).

Fourth, His promise settles the issue of ownership. "I will build My [Jesus'] church." The church does not belong to the Pastor, the Church Board, or the District Office. It is Jesus' church. He paid the price to redeem us: "the church of God which He purchased with His own blood" (Acts 20:28).

Fifth, this promise specifies exactly what Jesus is going to build. "I will build My church [His people]." The church is not a building. This word (church) literally speaks of "a called-out people." "But you are…His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God" (1 Peter 2:9-10).

Dear Lord Jesus, I honor You as the builder of the church. I rest in the certainty of Your task being accomplished, both quantitatively and qualitatively. I see that the church, Your redeemed people, belongs to You. Also, I humbly ask that You equip me and use me as You fulfill this grand promise, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - July 12

The Lord Promising to Build His Church

"You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18)

"The" promise of all promises that God has made is the gift of everlasting life. "And this is the promise that He has promised us-eternal life" (1 John 2:25). All who respond by faith to this promise of life become part of the church Jesus promises to build. "I will build My church."

The Lord gave this promise after Peter's accurate confession of Jesus being the Messiah. "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). As Jesus confirmed this confession, He let Peter know that he did not come up with that insight on his own. "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 16:17). Then, Jesus contrasted the meaning of Peter's name with the kind of foundation He would lay for His church. "You are Peter [in Greek, "Petros," a stone], and on this rock [in Greek, "petra," a bedrock] I will build My church." Peter's name signified a stone, that which could be easily moved or held within one's hand. Jesus would not build His church on mere men, which at best are like movable stones. Rather, he would build upon a bedrock foundation that could not be moved. He would build upon the rock-solid truth contained in Peter's confession. "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself would be the actual foundation for the church. "For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11).

This picture of Jesus Christ as the foundation of His church is a fulfillment of one of the great prophetic promises the Lord made long ago. "Therefore thus says the Lord God: 'Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation'" (Isaiah 28:16). Also, this is in perfect harmony with the Old Testament revelation of God as our Rock. "Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation" (Psalm 95:1). This rock-solid, anointed King (Jesus, the Messiah) would be fully effective in His mission. Even Satan and his demons, the authorities ("gates") of death and darkness ("Hades"), would be unable to prevent the fulfillment of His promise to build His church: "and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it."

Lord Jesus, I also confess You as the Christ, the Son of the living God. I praise You as the rock-solid foundation of Your church collectively—and of my life individually. Please use me as You fulfill Your promise to build Your church. In Your mighty name I pray, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - July 11

More on the Promise of Eternal Life

And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life…And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. (1 John 2:25 and 5:11)

We previously referred to the promise of eternal life as "the promise of all promises" (regarding its impact upon man). Thus, we will give it additional attention. We saw that eternal life (everlasting life) has both a quantitative aspect (lasting forever) and a qualitative aspect (growing in fullness). Also, eternal life is a gift of God's grace, which is received in humble faith. There are other distinctives of eternal life that are very edifying to contemplate.

The gift of eternal life is to be possessed now, not just awaiting us in eternity. "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life…Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life…Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life" (John 3:36; 5:24; 6:47). Those who have placed their faith in the Lord Jesus already have eternal life here on earth.

Furthermore, that reality can be embraced with assurance. "And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God" (1 John 5:11-13). Eternal life is innate to Jesus Christ. "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live…I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 11:25; 14:6). He is the life. All who have trusted in the Lord Jesus have Him dwelling in their lives. Therefore, they are assured of having eternal life.

Ultimately, these verses remind us of the most profound aspect of eternal life. The realities of that life are all related to Jesus. "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." In order to grow in that life, one must only pursue a growing relationship with the one who has the life. "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent…but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (John 17:3 and 2 Peter 3:18).

Dear Lord, I rejoice that Christ dwells within my life. Therefore, with full assurance I know that eternal life is my present possession. Now, I desire to grow in the fullness of that life, so I set my heart to know You better. Please reveal Yourself to me more and more through Your holy word, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - July 10

God Promising Eternal Life

And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life. (1 John 2:25)

We have examined a number of strategic promises from God in the Old Testament. We have also considered how a growing awareness of God's ability builds our faith in His promises. Now, let's begin to examine some of the promises that God has made in the New Testament.

The first promise we will look at could actually be called "the promise of all promises" (as far as that which impacts man the most profoundly). This promise is the culmination of all the others. "And this is the promise that He has promised us-eternal life." As in human life, eternal life has a quantitative aspect (related to duration) and a qualitative aspect (related to substance).

The quantitative aspect of eternal life pertains to the fact that it never ends. Consequently, it is sometimes translated as everlasting. "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:40). For humans, whose natural life is limited to a brief number of years, the thought of a never-ending life is overwhelming. Yet, as amazing as the quantitative side of eternal life is, the qualitative side is even more stupendous.

Jesus spoke of the qualitative aspect of eternal life. "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). This is a life in which the fullness of Jesus' grace is being increasingly manifested. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us… full of grace and truth… And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for [upon] grace" (John 1:14, 16). This is a life in which the Holy Spirit is being trusted to produce Christlike characteristics in an increasing manner. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). This is a life in which God, not man, is the source of sufficiency. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God" (2 Corinthians 3:5).

Appropriately, this eternal life is offered to man as a gift. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord…And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish" (Romans 6:23 and John 10:28). Necessarily, this gift can only be received by faith: "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:15).

O gracious Lord, what a wondrous gift is ours through faith—eternal life! I praise You that it will never end. I seek You that it may grow abundant in and through me. This I pray for Your glory and honor, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - July 9

Once More on God's Ability and His Promises

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think… (Ephesians 3:20)

These opening words from one of the most well-known benedictions in all of the New Testament offer a unique opportunity to consider God's ability, as related to His promises. How able is God? He is "able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think." Could we possibly ask for more than that which God has already promised? Could we properly think greater things than what God has promised? Well, let's reflect upon some of the promises of God that we have already considered.

We have seen that God promised to make a mighty nation with worldwide blessings from one man, Abraham. "I will make you a great nation…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 12:2-3). God also promised to deliver His people from bondage into an abundant land. "I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt…to a land flowing with milk and honey" (Exodus 3:17). He also promised to fight for His people. "The LORD your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you" (Deuteronomy 1:30). Additionally, God promised an eternal kingdom for His people, through the line of David. "And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever" (2 Samuel 7:16). Further, God promised that His Messiah would sit on that eternal throne. "A Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him" (Isaiah 11:1-2). Moreover, God promised that Messiah would be a unique King. "A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench" (Isaiah 42:3).

Ultimately, the Father promised that the Messiah Himself (Jesus) would be the new covenant of grace. "I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness, and will…give You as a covenant to the people" (Isaiah 42:6). Correspondingly, the Lord promised that this covenant of grace would provide forgiveness of sins ("I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more"-Jeremiah 31:34), intimacy with God ("They all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them"-Jeremiah 31:34), and an inner work of God to change us from the inside out ("I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts"-Jeremiah 31:33).

Certainly, we could not ask or think beyond these promises. Yet, our God is able to do far beyond these extraordinary matters. What confidence this gives us regarding God's promises, as well as every prayer we offer based on these promises!

Almighty God, how often I underestimate Your ability and thereby end up doubting Your promises. Lord, I praise You that You are able to do far beyond my prayers or thoughts—and every promise that You have ever made!

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - July 8

Still More on God's Ability and His Promises

For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. (2 Timothy 1:12)

A growing appreciation of God's ability produces an increasing tendency to rely upon God's promises. In this present meditation, we are reminded of how relationship with the Lord is always at the heart of the Christian life.

Paul's experience of suffering was the setting for this "one verse testimony." "For this reason I also suffer these things." The reason he suffered was related to his calling to preach the gospel: "to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles" (2 Timothy 1:11). When the Lord first called Paul to serve Him in the good news of grace, God revealed his future sufferings. "I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake" (Acts 9:16). Suffering is inevitable while serving God in an ungodly world. Jesus Himself was our example. "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps" (1 Peter 2:21).

Although Paul suffered, he was not shamed by his suffering. "Nevertheless I am not ashamed." If our suffering is for godly reasons, we likewise do not need to be ashamed. "If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter" (1 Peter 4:16). The faith that enabled Paul to endure sufferings properly came from His growing relationship with Jesus. "For I know whom I have believed." Since originally believing in the Lord, Paul had become increasingly acquainted with Him. A wonderful consequence of increased intimacy with Christ is becoming increasingly convinced of His ability. "For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able." This conviction encouraged Paul to entrust the issues of life into the care of His Master. "He is able to keep what I have committed to Him." This trust was Paul's daily desire right up to the return of the Lord: "until that Day." Again, Jesus left us a similar example. He committed His daily situations into the hands of His able heavenly Father. "When He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously" (1 Peter 2:23).

Dear heavenly Father, again I see that it is all about relationship. As Jesus related to You in His day by day living, I want to relate to Jesus. Lord Jesus, help me to know You more and more. Getting to know You is what persuades me of Your ability to fulfill Your promises. Lord, I have many sufferings that I need to trust You to handle, from now until You return for me. In Your mighty name I pray, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - July 7

Even More on God's Ability and His Promises

Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace…Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. (Daniel 3:17 and Jude v. 24)

The basic subject matter in this section of our meditations on growing in the grace of God pertains to the promises of God. Living by the promises of God is just another way to consider living by the grace of God. Again, our present verses speak of the ability of God. The more we understand what God is able to do, the more extensively we will trust in His promises.

Three young Israelites (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego) gave powerful testimony of the ability of God. King Nebuchadnezzar had ordered all the people to engage in idolatry, under threat of severe consequences. "To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that at the time you hear the sound of the horn…you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up; and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace" (Daniel 3:4-6). The three young men had a bold answer, based on the ability of God. "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace." They did not bow down, so they were thrown into the blazing furnace. Yet, the Lord demonstrated His ability on their behalf. When the king looked into the furnace, he exclaimed, "Look!…I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God" (Daniel 3:25). Yes, God proved able to deliver them.

Hundreds of years later, Jude wrote of God's ability in two other important arenas. "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy." This aspect of God's ability offers assurance that God can keep His people from stumbling while on earth and present them faultless when they reach heaven. We all know our own capacity to stumble spiritually into transgression or compromise. Also, the enemy's condemnations often rob us of the expectation that we will eventually stand before our Lord in glory, fully forgiven, cleansed, and transformed. Our God is able to work effectively in both arenas for all who humbly trust in Him.

Lord, how able You are! You are able to deliver me from the threatening situations of life. You are able to keep me from stumbling into sin. You are able to present me faultless before You some day in heaven. Lord, Your great ability encourages me to humbly depend upon Your many promises!

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Day By Day By Grace - July 6

More on God's Ability and His Promises

"With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible…For with God nothing will be impossible." (Matthew 19:26 and Luke 1:37)

God's ability has a critical relationship with His promises. The more we trust His ability, the more sure we are of His promises. Man's ability is one of the basic reasons we often doubt human promises. This is one of the significant differences between God's promises and man's promises. Man's ability often runs into human impossibilities. The Lord is not limited by the "impossibility factor." This truth is reflected in two stories of "seeming impossibilities" that lie behind our present verses.

A rich young man came to Jesus, seeking salvation. "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" (Matthew 19:16). Jesus quoted the law to stir conviction. This man wrongly thought he was performing well. "All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?" (Matthew 19:20). Jesus identified with precision the man's basic sin: putting money ahead of the Lord. "Go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." (Matthew 19:21). However, he would not put Jesus ahead of his riches. "When the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions" (Matthew 19:22). Jesus then elaborated on the man's difficult situation. "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24). The disciples (who wrongly assumed that rich men were the most likely to be saved) wondered how anyone could then be saved. Jesus corrected their faulty thinking. "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:24). Later, Jesus demonstrated that God can even save a rich man (Zacchaeus-see Luke 19:1-10).

Our second story concerns the "impossible" births of Jesus and John, the Baptist. When the angel proclaimed to Mary that she would have a child before she even knew a man in marriage, she was initially staggered by the impossibility of it all. "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" (Luke 1:34). The angel replied, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you" (Luke 1:35). Then, the angel announced that Elizabeth (Mary's elderly, barren relative) was now pregnant. Finally, the angel summarized Jesus' divine conception and Elizabeth's miraculous pregnancy with the heavenly explanation: " For with God nothing will be impossible."

Dear Lord, You are able to do much more than put camels through eyes of needles. You are able to forgive sinners and get them into heaven. Lord, Your ability to do the impossible assures the certainty of Your promises, so I trust in Your word, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - July 5

God's Ability and His Promises

Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth…There is nothing too hard for You…" Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?" (Jeremiah 32:17, 27)

In recent days, we have meditated upon many of the strategic promises of God. When considering promises, the ability of the one making the promises is a vital concern. If we examine God's ability and His promises with an open heart, growth in faith will always be the result. In our present verses, God's promise-keeping ability is assured by His role in creation and by His rule over mankind.

How able is God to fulfill His promises? Jeremiah answers this by confessing God as the creator of the universe. "Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You." Because God was able to create everything, we can be assured He is able to do what He promises. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). He was able to do this merely by His spoken word. "God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light" …"Then God said, 'Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters'…and it was so" (Genesis 1:3, 6-7). The Psalmist understood the proper response to such a great God. "By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth…Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast" (Psalm 33:6, 8-9). When our God, the Creator of heaven and earth, speaks forth His promises, we should bow before Him and say with Jeremiah, "There is nothing too hard for You."

Our confidence in God's ability to keep His promises is further strengthened by His rhetorical question addressed to Jeremiah. "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?" Our God not only created the universe, He is the ruler of all humanity. The Psalmist also saw this truth. "The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart to all generations" (Psalm 33:10-11). When our God, the ruler of all nations, addresses His promises to us, we can respond rhetorically, "Is there anything too hard for [Him]?"

Ah, Lord God, You are the creator of all the universe, and You are the ruler of all mankind. Surely, You are able to do everything that You have ever promised. Nothing is too difficult for you!

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - July 4

God Promising His Messiah to the Gentiles

"I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles…It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth." (Isaiah 42:6 and 49:6)

As we have seen, God, the Father, promised to give Jesus, the Messiah, to His people as the new covenant of grace. "I, the LORD…will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people." Thus, God's resources of grace are only available through relationship with Christ. Furthermore, the Father promised that His covenant of grace through his Son would extend to all the Gentile nations: "that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth."

It is clear that the Messiah's mission would initially be to the house of Israel, to the Jewish people. "'Behold, the days are coming,' says the LORD, 'that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah: In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David a Branch of righteousness'" (Jeremiah 33:14-15). Jesus' initial instructions to His disciples were in line with this truth. "These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: 'Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel'" (Matthew 10:5-6).

Yet, God's promises were much larger than solely reaching His chosen people, Israel. "It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel." God wanted His light to shine out into the nations. "I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles." The Father wanted His saving grace to extend throughout the world: "that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth."

At the appropriate time, Jesus also instructed His followers in the worldwide dimensions of His mission. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature…that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem…But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; and Acts 1:8).

O Lord God, how extensive are Your promises. I thank You that they reached to me. Yet, I need my thinking to be enlarged by Your promises. Transform my vision and my prayers to include the entire world, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - July 3

The Father Promising His Messiah as a Covenant

"I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people." (Isaiah 42:6)

Once again, multiple promises reveal God's plan and guarantee His purposes. These promises are actually being made from God, the Father, to His Messiah, the anointed King (who is God, the Son). The promises show that the Messiah would be the new covenant of grace for His people.

In the opening words, the Father is describing the call of His Messiah. "I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness." Also, the Father is promising full participation in His Messiah's mission. "I, the LORD…will hold Your hand; I will keep You." This would be essential, because the Messiah would go forth as a humble, dependent Servant ("My Servant"-Isaiah 49:6): "taking the form of a servant…He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:7-8).

Then, the Father offers this great promise of Christ's primary role in going forth to earth. "I will…give You as a covenant to the people." Jesus Christ Himself would be given to God's people as His new covenant with them. The new covenant of grace was supplanting the old covenant of law. Yet, it was not just a matter of prescribing new terms. Rather, a Person was being given who would be the sum and substance of the covenant. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us… full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).

God has a new covenant of grace for His people, and it is all related to a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. He Himself is the embodiment of all that the new covenant promises. In the new covenant, the Lord promises righteousness. This righteousness is found in a Person. "'Behold, the days are coming,' says the LORD, 'That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS'" (Jeremiah 23:5-6). Peace is promised in this covenant of grace. This peace is also found in a Person. "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace" (Ephesians 2:13-14). Yes, all that the Lord promises by grace is entered into initially, and continually, by a humble, dependent relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Dear Father, I praise You for Your grace. I rejoice that the provisions of grace are not about performance or procedure, but are about developing a relationship with Your Son, Jesus Christ!

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - July 2

God Promising a Unique King

A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth. (Isaiah 42:3-4)

Again, the promises of God cascade forth, one upon another. "He will not break…He will not quench…He will bring forth …He will not fail." This set of four promises confirms a unique King for the people of God. His uniqueness is seen in how He would deal with bruised reeds and smoking flaxes, as well as in the justice He would eventually establish upon the earth.

Many times, people are like bruised reeds. God has created humanity to be innately vulnerable, like reeds that grow by the river. "As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more" (Psalm 103:15-16). At best, reeds are not strong. When they are bruised, they hang over limp and helpless. It is easy for an insensitive person to break a human "bruised reed" in half, virtually destroying that life. Jesus, the unique King, does not do that. "A bruised reed He will not break." The Lord Jesus can take bruised reeds and turn them into mighty spiritual trees. "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted… to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified" (Isaiah 61:1, 3).

At other times, people are like smoking flax (a dimly burning wick). Their spiritual fire of hope or zeal is flickering, ready to burn out. A rough or blustering person can easily extinguish the meager spark that remains. Once again, Jesus is unique. He can gently fan that flickering wick, even fueling it back into a spiritual blaze. The disillusioned disciples on the road to Emmaus experienced that. "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?" (Luke 24:32).

Ultimately, His uniqueness shall be demonstrated when He sets up His kingdom on earth. Then, after man has brought forth injustice after injustice, true justice will be established throughout this world. "He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth."

Lord Jesus, I honor You as my unique King. No one but You could have dealt with my heart when I was the bruised reed and the dimly burning wick. No one but You can properly reverse the injustices that I have both perpetrated and endured. I bow to You, asking that You make me more like You, in Your name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - July 1

God Promising an Anointed King

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:1-2)

Already, we have seen our God of promises guarantees to call out a people for Himself, to deliver His people from bondage, to fight for His people, and to give them an everlasting kingdom. Now, God promises an anointed king for His people.

This anointed king was promised through David's line. "There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse." Jesse was a son of Obed and the father of David. "Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David" (Ruth 4:22). This king is here given a Messianic title, "Branch." "A Branch shall grow out of his roots." Other prophets had made similar prophetic promises concerning this royal Branch. "Behold, the days are coming,' says the LORD, 'That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth'…I am bringing forth My Servant the Branch… Behold, the Man whose name is the Branch!" (Jeremiah 23:5 and Zechariah 3:8; 6:12).

This king ("the Branch") would serve by the empowering of the Holy Spirit. "The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him." The Spirit of God would not merely come upon Him at times (as with King Saul). "Then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them" (1 Samuel 10:10). The Spirit would continually be upon Him for ministry. "The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him." Of course, this king, the Branch, would be Jesus Christ. Jesus applied a similar Messianic passage to Himself. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me" (Luke 4:18). Yes, Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the anointed King. In fact, Christ is the Greek term for "anointed One," whereas Messiah is the Hebrew term for the same.

The Messiah's ministry would be characterized by godly wisdom, heavenly understanding, perfect counsel, divine might, complete knowledge, and holy reverence for the Father. All of this was produced by the work of the Holy Spirit upon Him: "the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD."

Jesus, my anointed King, You walked in spiritual fullness while upon this earth. What You displayed is what I long to live day by day. By Your promises, through the work of Your Spirit, please supply these realities in my walk, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - June 30

God Promising an Everlasting Kingdom

"And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever…And now, O LORD God, You are God, and Your words are true, and You have promised this goodness to Your servant." (2 Samuel 7:16, 28)

The opening verse consists of promises from the Lord to David. They guaranteed an everlasting kingdom for David's line. The following verse conveys David's response to God's promises. His response reminds us how we should respond to the promises of God.

The kingdoms of man come and go. The kingdom that God establishes for His people is forever. This kingdom is made available to man by the promises of God. The Lord ordained that King David would have a key role in this plan. "And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever." It would be through David that the promised Messiah would come. This divine King would sit upon David's throne in a rule that would have no end. "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this" (Isaiah 9:6-7).

When the angel was announcing to Mary the conception of the Messiah, these promises were reiterated. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end" (Luke 1:31-33). These promises will be eternally fulfilled some day. "Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!'" (Revelation 11:15).

This is the kingdom Jesus offered when He walked upon this earth. "From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand'" (Matthew 4:17). For all who would respond in faith like David ("Your words are true"), a place would be given in that everlasting kingdom!

Eternal God, I believe Your words are true. I have repented of my sins and have turned to Jesus as my Savior and my King. I praise Your holy name for giving me a place in the everlasting kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - June 29

God's Promise to Fight for His People

"The LORD your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes…No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you." (Deuteronomy 1:30 and Joshua 1:5)

God's promises had guaranteed that Israel would be delivered from bondage in Egypt. Here, God promises to fight for His people, assuring them of victory in battle as they entered the Promised Land.

There would be many battles as God's people went into the land. Ungodly nations would persistently oppose them. Moses, as God's spokesperson, expresses the Lord's commitment to do battle for Israel. "The LORD your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you." The Lord had done mighty things for Israel in bringing them out of Egypt. Now, Moses assures them that God will act again on their behalf "according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes."

Later, the Lord Himself reassured Joshua of a similar truth. "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life." Many would try to come against the people of God under Joshua's leadership. Yet, God pledged the same faithfulness to Joshua that Moses had enjoyed. "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you." Then, the Lord added the ultimate words of reassurance. "I will not leave you nor forsake you." When facing the certainty of battles, there is nothing greater than having God committed to always be present to fight against the enemy. The battle report in one region of the Promised Land gave testimony to God's faithful promises. "All these kings and their land Joshua took at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel" (Joshua 10:42).

We are also engaged in warfare, spiritual warfare. "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2 Timothy 2:3). As spiritual soldiers, we must use spiritual weapons. "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:3-4). The promises of God are part of our spiritual weaponry. We can stand victorious in battle by the promises of God, just as the Apostle Paul did. "Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you…And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them" (Acts 18:9-11).

Dear Lord, the battles rage hot and heavy so often in my life. I thank You for Your promises to fight for me. I rest in Your presence in my life here in the midst of this battlefield called earth, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - June 28

God's Promise to Deliver Israel

"I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt…I will certainly be with you…I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt…to a land flowing with milk and honey…So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go." (Exodus 3:10, 12, 17, 20)

Again, we see our God of promises pouring out His guaranteed plans like a cascading waterfall. They include God's promise to deliver Israel. These promises build upon God's fundamental commitment to Abraham to call out a people for His own glory and purposes. The central promise reveals the rescuing heart of God, who wants to deliver people from bondage, and bring them into blessing. "I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt… to a land flowing with milk and honey."

Our God is a God of compassion. When Israel was in cruel bondage in Egypt, God's heart was moved with concern. "And the LORD said: 'I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows'" (Exodus 3:7). The prophet Isaiah put it this way. "In all their affliction He was afflicted" (Isaiah 63:9). Thus, the Lord committed Himself to deliver them. "So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go."

When the Lord Jesus walked upon this earth, He demonstrated the same compassion. "But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd" (Matthew 9:36). This same loving compassion led Jesus all the way to the cross to deliver us from the bondage of sin.

The delivering work of God for Israel was not only from bondage; it was to substantial blessing: "to a land flowing with milk and honey." Israel was not only rescued from great heartache, but they were brought into a joyous bounty. When Joshua and Caleb saw the land, they described it as "an exceedingly good land" (Numbers 14:7). This same pattern (from bondage to blessing) is how Jesus works on our behalf. He delivers us from spiritual death to fullness of life. "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

Dear Lord, my Deliverer, I praise You for rescuing me from the bondage of sin. I rejoice that You have brought me into the richness of fellowship with You. What a gracious plan You have provided—to make all of this available by means of Your faithful promises!

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Day By Day By Grace - June 27

God's Promises to Abraham

Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." (Genesis 12:1-3)

These are some of the most strategic promises in the word of God. They are repeated to Abraham (Genesis 13:14-18; 15:5; 17:1-8; 22:17-18). They are confirmed to Isaac (Genesis 26:2-4, 24) and to Jacob (Genesis 28:13-14; 35:9-12). They are woven throughout the Old Testament (Nehemiah 9:7-8; Psalm 105:6-11; Isaiah 51:2). They are elaborated upon in prominent chapters of the New Testament (Romans 4 and 9; Galatians 3 and 4; Hebrews 6, 7, and 11). Ultimately, we will see that these promises are at the root of the new covenant of grace.

These promises to Abraham flow forth one upon another. This is so typical of our God of promises. He does not merely sprinkle His word with a promise here and there. He pours them out like a cascading waterfall. Included within these divine commitments are some of the monumental purposes of God; namely, a Promised Land, the nation of Israel, the Messiah, and worldwide missions.

First, God's promises included a Promised Land. "Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you." This new land would be spacious, with bountiful provision: "a good and large land…a land flowing with milk and honey" (Exodus 3:8). Then, in that land of blessing, God would develop the nation of Israel. "I will make you a great nation." Eventually, through that nation, Messiah would be birthed, fulfilling the promise to bring God's blessings to all who would believe. "In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." The Lord Jesus would be that specific, individual seed that would offer God's blessed salvation to all the world. "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, 'And to seeds,' as of many, but as of one, 'And to your Seed,' who is Christ" (Galatians 3:16). This promise contained the gospel. "And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, 'In you all the nations shall be blessed'" (Galatians 3:8). The gospel is the good news of God's saving grace. This good news is for all the world to hear.

Lord God of majestic promises, what a grand plan You have laid out in only a few sentences! Help me to read Your word with alertness regarding Your promises. Please shape my thinking and my expectations by Your mighty promises, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - June 26

Promises Concerning the Flood

"Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth." (Genesis 9:11)

The history of the great flood in Genesis is a striking illustration that our God is a God of promises. The cause for the flood was the exceeding sinfulness of man. "Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5). God set forth His plan to deal with this problem by a promise of judgment. "So the LORD said, 'I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth'" (Genesis 6:7). Thus, through promise, judgment by floodwaters became a certainty.

Along with a promise of judgment, God made a promise of deliverance, a promise of grace. "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD" (Genesis 6:8). This grace was available through the promised ark of protection. "But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark" (Genesis 6:18). Noah trusted in the Lord's plan and provision and was thereby preserved from judgment. "Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did" (Genesis 6:22). Then, the Lord promised Noah (and all humanity) that a judgment of floodwaters would never again destroy mankind. "Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth." Additionally, God established by promise a sign for this covenant. "I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth" (Genesis 9:12-13).

These promises concerning the flood (and God's "ark of salvation") are a picture of Jesus' being our "ark of eternal salvation." Peter wrote of the flood and the ark. "The longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water" (1 Peter 3:20). Then, he likened Noah's rescue through the ark and the floodwaters to our rescue through Christ and the waters of baptism. "There is also an antitype [a prefiguring] which now saves us, namely baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 3:21). When we identified by faith with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (which is the significance of water baptism), Jesus became our "ark of salvation," whereby we are brought to God (rescued from the judgment due our sins). Now every rainbow can remind us of God's faithfulness to keep His promises of salvation.

Lord Jesus, I rejoice in You as my ark of safety from judgment for my sins! Please remind me with every rainbow that You keep all of Your promises of salvation, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - June 25

Our God of Promises

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel. (Genesis 3:15)

Although the Scriptures do not command us to make promises to God, we who believe in the Lord have the liberty to make various kinds of promises. It is permissible to express our devotion to God through promises, if they are in dependence upon His character and capacities. "I will love You, O LORD, my strength" (Psalm 18:1). It is also acceptable to make godly confessions through promises that are based on His promises to us. "He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear'" (Hebrews 13:5-6a). We are even allowed to make predictive promises concerning the details of our lives, if they are subject to God's will. "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that" (James 4:15). Still, the work of God in our lives hinges upon His promises to us. In fact, our God is characteristically a God of promises.

The fact that our God typically works through promises is seen as early as the third chapter of the Bible. There, God made a very strategic set of promises. "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel." These prophetic promises were addressed to Satan, but they were given in the hearing of Adam and Eve. Of course, they were recorded in the Scriptures for everyone else to consider thereafter.

These promises revealed some of the consequences of spiritual rebellion, as well as announcing God's remedy for the sin of man. "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed." These words declare the inevitability of spiritual warfare, as well as the certainty of the cross of Christ.

Spiritual warfare is a major theme in Scripture. This warfare is documented throughout the word of God. "Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel…Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?…So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world" (1 Chronicles 21:1; Acts 5:3; and Revelation 12:9). Nevertheless, the cross of Christ would provide a victory over the enemy and an escape from this sinful world for all who would embrace it. "Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age" (Galatians 1:3-4).

Dear God of promises, may my promises be a peripheral issue in my thinking and living. Conversely, may Your promises be central and foundational—especially, those promises related to the cross of Jesus, my Lord, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - June 24

Promises Based on the Will of God

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." (James 4:13-15)

Promises based on the will of God is another category of acceptable promises. People are frequently heard making predictive promises. "I will be a more faithful husband next year." "I will get better grades in school this semester." "I will not repeat my personal failures of last year." "I will improve my business this quarter." Such promises are only acceptable to God, if they are made contingent upon the will of God. Instead, we ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that."

The will of God is to be the determining factor for all of our plans. God used James to reprimand the self-willed life. "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit'." Such promises indicate the arrogance that people can embrace within their lives. "But now you boast in your arrogance" (James 4:16). Such arrogance prohibits us from living by grace, because grace is imparted to the humble heart. "Be clothed with humility, for 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble'" (1 Peter 5:5).

David was a notable example of one who humbly yielded to, and sought after, the will of God. "I delight to do Your will, O my God…Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God" (Psalm 40:8; 143:10). Paul's comprehensive commitment to God's will could be seen even in the way he stated predictive promises about his personal travel plans. As he left Ephesus, he stated,"I will return again to you, God willing" (Acts 18:21). When writing to Corinth, he promised "I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills" (1 Corinthians 4:19).

Ultimately, the Lord Jesus Christ taught and lived with His Father's will as the absolute standard. Concerning how we should pray, He taught, "In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven…Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:9-10). He Himself prayed in this way. "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will" (Matthew 26:39).

Dear Father, I seek You for a heart that is fully committed to Your will. May I delight in Your will each day. May I speak of future days only in terms of Your will—"If it is Your will, I shall live and do this or that."

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Day By Day By Grace - June 23

Promises to God Based on Promises from God

He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we may boldly say: "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:5-6)

Another acceptable category of promises to God involves those based on His promises to us. God has already promised to be with us every step of our pilgrimage here on earth. "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Consequently, we can declare with great confidence: "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"

The Lord knows our vulnerability to fear, such as the fear of man. "The fear of man brings a snare" (Proverbs 29:25a). Many traps and entanglements await those who are afraid of man's opinions or actions. Abraham jeopardized his own wife, because he was afraid of the Egyptians. "Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, 'This is his wife'; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you" (Genesis 12:12-13). King Saul sinned against God, because he feared the people. "Then Saul said to Samuel, 'I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice'" (1 Samuel 15:24). Of course, God's protection against such snares is to depend upon Him, when we are tempted to fear man. "The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe" (Proverbs 29:25).

The Lord has given many promises of His presence with His people to protect them from man. To Joshua, God promised: "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you" (Joshua 1:5). To Paul, the Lord promised: "Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city" (Acts 18:9-10). To every believer in Christ, He has promised: "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). Therefore, "we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?'"

When our promises are based on the promises of God, His faithfulness and His ability become the validation of our promises.

Dear Lord, You know my susceptibility to fear. At times, this fear concerns what others might say or do. When I am tempted to respond in this carnal manner, please remind me of Your constant presence. I want to trust You as my helper and not fear what man may do, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - June 22

Permissible Promises Made to God

I will love You, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. (Psalm 18:1-3)

The Scriptures are quite clear. God's work in our lives depends upon His promises to us, not our promises to Him. However, this does not mean that we are forbidden to express our love and devotion to God through promises made to Him. In this rich testimony from the heart of David, he makes two significant promises to the Lord. "I will love You, O LORD…I will call upon the LORD." As we examine what accompanies these promises, we will see the kind of promises that are permissible to make to God.

Loving God is the essence of our relationship with the Lord. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37). Our love for the Lord is in response to His great love for us. "We love Him because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). Long ago, the Lord had promised that He would be available to work in the heart of His people, if they were willing to love Him properly. "And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deuteronomy 30:6). The context of David's promises to love God indicates that He understood this promise from the Lord. "I will love You, O LORD, my strength." God was the one David was trusting in to give him the strength that was needed to walk in a loving relationship with the Lord.

As we grow in awareness of the love of God, we learn to call upon Him to deliver us in times of trouble. "I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies." David's promise to cry out to God in the midst of difficulties was based upon the Lord's praiseworthy character. David had called upon the Lord many times before, and He had delivered him. David had come to know the Lord (to experience Him) as his mighty protector. "The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust."

As we noted previously, in Israel's promises to obey the law of God, they were depending upon themselves. In David's promises to love God and to call upon Him in times of trouble, he was depending upon the character and capacities of God!

Dear loving and rescuing Lord, my love for You is truly a result of Your work of love in my heart! Likewise, my cries to You for help are based upon Your many faithful rescues in times past! You are my God, my strength, in whom I will trust!

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Day By Day By Grace - June 21

The Inability of God to Lie

Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation…In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began. (Hebrews 6:17-18 and Titus 1:2)

One benefit of living by the promises of God is related to something that God cannot do. He is unable to lie. "It is impossible for God to lie." This "inability" magnifies His greatness and brings us great assurance.

This "inability" of God is linked here to His promises. We who live by faith are "heirs of promise." We inherit the blessings of God by trusting Him to fulfill all that He has promised to do. These promises offer everlasting life and are anchored in eternity past: "In hope of eternal life which God… promised before time began." Now, here in time and space, God wants to deeply impress us with the unchangeable character of His will: "Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel." The Lord wants to assure us that He will not declare one thing, and then later change His mind and do something else.

In order to provide us with solid assurance, God coupled His promise with an oath ("confirmed it by an oath"). People make oaths, attempting to convince others of their reliability. They swear by something greater than themselves. "For men indeed swear by the greater" (Hebrews 6:16). However, "when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, 'Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you'" (Hebrews 6:13-14). This marks an amazing condescension on the part of our Lord toward us. We might say that He somewhat lowers Himself down to our level (which He would fully do in the incarnation, becoming a man). He uses a common human custom to grant us an assured understanding of His reliable commitment to us.

In this unusual communication from God, we receive assurance that is likened unto a "double certainty." The "God, who cannot lie," makes a promise and an oath, "that by two immutable things…we might have strong consolation."

Dear Lord, as one who has often proven my ability to lie, I worship You as the God who cannot lie! Your promises grant rich assurance. Your oath adds strong encouragement to rely upon You. Thank You for doing whatever is necessary to strengthen my hope in You. How gracious You are!

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Day By Day By Grace - June 20

Man's Promises or God's Promises

Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before them all these words which the LORD commanded him. Then all the people answered together and said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do." (Exodus 19:7-8)

The promises of the old covenant of law depend upon the performance of man. "You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them" (Leviticus 18:5). The better promises of the new covenant of grace depend upon the performance of God. "I will make a new covenant…I will put My law in their minds" (Jeremiah 31:31, 33).

When man attempts to live under the law (thereby needing to perform up to God's standards by human resources), he typically tries to live by his promises to God. Israel was a vivid example of this futile tendency. "All that the LORD has spoken we will do." This well-intended promise to God was consistently broken. Moses' words are a stinging indictment of the vanity of basing life with God on our promises to Him. "You have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you" (Deuteronomy 9:24).

The desire to obey God resides appropriately within the hearts of His children. However, we must find a better way to obedience than relying upon our promises to God. That better way is the path of grace, which offers a life based upon God's promises to man. "I will give you a new heart and [I will] put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and [I will] give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and [I will] cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them" (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

We are to live in dependence upon the promises of God to us (instead of relying upon our promises to Him). Living by God's promises produces a growing confidence in the Lord, a confidence that results from His unique character. "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" (Numbers 23:19). Man may make promises to God, but, eventually, he will fail. God is not like man. God is true to His word. He will not lie, nor will He change His mind. Whatever He says, He will do! We can fully rely upon the promises of God that we find in His word.

Lord God of truth, forgive my multiple attempts to develop a Christian walk by my promises to You. Lord, You know how often I have failed. What a joyous option this is—to live in reliance upon Your promises to me! Please teach me how to think and live this way, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - June 19

Better Promises under Grace

But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. (Hebrews 8:6)

In every way, the new covenant of grace is a better covenant than the old covenant of law. "But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant." We have considered some of the better aspects of living under grace: a better High Priest to minister to us, a better sacrifice for sins, a greater intimacy with God, and spiritual substance instead of mere shadows. Another better aspect of grace is that it "was established on better promises." To this excellent reality, we will now give continuing attention over many days.

Under the old covenant of law, a basic promise is stated repeatedly. It is present in the first giving of the law, when the children of Israel were delivered from bondage in Egypt. "You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them" (Leviticus 18:5). It was present when the law was given again to Israel, as they were preparing to enter the promised land. "Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth" (Deuteronomy 28:1). At this time, a corollary promise of warning was made. "But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you" (Deuteronomy 28:15).

The basic promises of the law can be summarized as "do this, and you will live." The promises under the law are contingent upon the performance of man. If man is able to keep the law, the promises of life and blessing will be fulfilled. Ultimately, the children of Israel demonstrated the inability of man to live up to the standards of God's holy law. "Notwithstanding, the children rebelled against Me; they did not walk in My statutes, and were not careful to observe My judgments, 'which, if a man does, he shall live by them'" (Ezekiel 20:21).

The promises under grace are immeasurably better than those under law, because they do not depend upon man's performance. "I will make a new covenant… I will put My law in their minds…I will be their God…I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more" (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Dear Lord, I rejoice over the new covenant of grace. How wonderful it is to live under promises that do not depend upon my ability to perform. Lord, I put my trust in You to fulfill Your promises in my life. Through Christ I pray, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - June 18

More on Substance, not Shadows, under Grace

For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come…Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. (Hebrews 10:1 and Colossians 2:16-17)

Just as an approaching shadow points to the arrival of the person casting the shadow, so the law pointed to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus (with His abounding grace) is the substance which the law foreshadows. "The substance is of Christ." Jesus is the one who brought "the good things to come."

One of these "good things" that Jesus brings by His grace is the full rest seen in the shadow of the Sabbath. The law of God called for a day of rest every week for His people. "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy…Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD" (Exodus 20:8; 31:15). This shadow provided regular physical rest for the Israelites. However, it pictured the substantial rest (true spiritual rest) that Jesus brings us. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:28-29). Jesus is now the daily Sabbath rest for all who humbly depend upon Him. "For we who have believed do enter that rest" (Hebrews 4:3).

Another of the "good things" that Jesus provides by His grace is the full fellowship foreshadowed in the Tabernacle of the Old Covenant. The Tabernacle reveals God's desire to dwell in the midst of men. "Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle…just so you shall make it" (Exodus 25:8-9). This elaborate portable tent was to be set up right in the middle of God's people. "You shall appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the Testimony…they shall carry the tabernacle…and camp around the tabernacle" (Numbers 1:50). The priests of the tribe of Levi would encircle the Tabernacle, with the other tribes of Israel encamped around them. This is a significant shadow: God dwelling at the center of His people. Yet, something far more substantial than this shadow is fulfilled in Christ. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt [literally, "tabernacled"] among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Now, this same Jesus has made the church collectively, and our lives individually, the tabernacle of His presence among men! "Do you not know that you are the temple of God…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" (1 Corinthians 3:16 and Ephesians 3:17).

Dear Lord Jesus, I praise You for coming to dwell in my life by grace through faith. I hope in You now for the daily rest my weary soul desperately needs, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - June 17

Substance, not Shadows, under Grace

For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect…Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. (Hebrews 10:1 and Colossians 2:16-17)

Another superior aspect of grace is seen in the difference between a shadow and the substance that casts a shadow. Shadows supply various benefits, but they have critical limitations. Shadows can provide a visible outline of an actual reality, but they cannot supply what is inherent to the reality. Also, shadows can give indication of an approaching person, but they cannot provide a relationship with that person. The old covenant of law is likened unto a shadow: "For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come." The new covenant of grace (God's sufficient resources freely available in Christ) is the substance. "The substance is of Christ."

One of the shadow-like characteristics of the law was contained in its sacrifices. "For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect." Christ would perfectly fulfill all that those ancient sacrifices represented, while making all of their desired benefits available to those who would believe in Him. The Passover lamb is a clear example of this truth. "Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb…For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you" (Exodus 12:21, 23). This shadow of temporal deliverance becomes substance of permanent deliverance in Christ, who delivers us from eternal judgment. "Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us" (1 Corinthians 5:7).

Another shadow-like characteristic of the law can be seen in its righteous commands. Whatever the law demands is related to holiness, to righteousness. "You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy" (Leviticus 19:2). This call to righteousness can only become a substantial reality through the Lord Jesus Christ: "that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith" (Philippians 3:8-9).

Lord Jesus, You are all of the good things to come that were foreshadowed in the law. Help me to avoid being caught up in the shadows of the law. May Your Spirit draw me to the unlimited spiritual substance that is found in You alone, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - June 16

A Greater Intimacy under Grace

Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All…Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us. (Hebrews 9:1-3 and 10:19-20)

An additional better aspect of grace is greater intimacy than the law could provide. The old covenant of law brought many priests into the holy place ("the sanctuary"), but only one into the Holy of Holies ("the Holiest"). The new covenant of grace brings every believer into the Holy of Holies-daily!

Under the guidelines of the law, there was an earthly tabernacle, where God's people were to approach Him. "Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary." The two inner chambers (the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies) were where spiritual intimacy with God was available. The holy place had significant "spiritual furniture," signifying various realities of the people's relationship with God. "For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary." In this chamber, a specified number of priests would enter each day. They would be occupied in busy service unto the Lord (lighting the lamps, laying out the bread, supplying the incense). However, they were separated from the most intimate presence of the Lord by the veil that prevented access to the Holy of Holies.

Behind that veil of separation was the most intimate place with God: "behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All." Therein was the ark with the tablets of law: "the ark of the covenant…and the tablets of the covenant" (Hebrews 9:4). Above the ark was the mercy seat, where the shining glory of God's personal presence was seen. Here, blood was sprinkled, allowing sinful man to commune with a holy God: "and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat" (Hebrews 9:5). Yet, the law's severe restriction is seen in that only one man could enter that intimate place one day a year: "into the second part the high priest went alone once a year" (Hebrews 9:7). Now every new covenant servant of grace can daily enjoy by faith that intimate presence of the Lord! "Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us."

Lord God of holiness, I praise You for the new and living way of grace, that offers such intimacy with You. In humble faith, I ask that You make Your presence known to me day by day, through the blood of Christ, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - June 15

A Better Sacrifice under Grace

For such a High Priest was fitting for us…who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices…for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself…Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Hebrews 7:26-27 and 9:12)

Another superior aspect of the new covenant of grace is the sacrifice we have in Jesus Christ, our great High Priest. The sacrifices under the old covenant were offered repeatedly, and they involved the blood of animals. In both respects the sacrifice of Jesus is far better.

The priests under the law presented their same sacrifices day after day. These sacrifices could not remove sin. "And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins" (Hebrews 10:11). These sacrifices provided a temporary covering of sin, anticipating the permanent work of the Messiah to come. However, at the same time, in these sacrifices was a constant remembrance of sin and guilt. "In those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year" (Hebrews 10:3). As the blood was shed, the ultimate consequence of sin (death) was being played out before the people. "And according to the law almost all things are purged with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22). Eventually, Jesus died as the perfect, "once-for-all" sacrifice. "For such a High Priest was fitting for us…who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices…for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself." This was a sacrifice that could actually remove sin. "Once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself…so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many…But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God" (Hebrews 9:26, 28 and 10:12).

The limitation of law sacrifices was that mere animal blood was being shed. "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins" (Hebrews 10:4). Thus, our High Priest under grace offered His own blood. "Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption." The blood of Christ was uniquely effective. It was the "precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot…The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (1 Peter 1:19 and John 1:29).

Dear Lamb of God, what a marvelous sacrifice You gave by grace! One death for all the sins of the world makes eternal redemption available to all who believe. I gratefully rejoice in this wondrous gift!

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Day By Day By Grace - June 14

A Better High Priest under Grace

"You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek" by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant…Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:21-22, 25)

The supreme issue regarding the better aspects of the new covenant of grace is Jesus, our High Priest. The priests under the law were men who served for a limited time and then died. Under grace, our High Priest serves forever. Jesus received His priesthood "not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life" (Hebrews 7:16).

The priests under the law were sons of Aaron from the tribe of Levi. Each served as a brief reminder of the perfect priest who would someday bring a better covenant than the law. "Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron?" (Hebrews 7:11). This was a temporary priesthood, requiring numerous priests. "And there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing" (Hebrews 7:23). The priesthood of Jesus would never have to be transferred to another because He is the eternal Son of God. "But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood" (Hebrews 7:24).

Jesus, our eternal High Priest, was a priest after the order of Melchizedek. "For this Melchizedek… without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually" (Hebrews 7:1-3). Melchizedek was the one who brought bread and wine to Abraham, when he returned victorious from battle (see Genesis 14). There was no genealogy for Melchizedek, no record of the beginning or ending of his days of service. In this, he was like the Son of God: eternal. Thus, he pictured Jesus' priesthood: eternal. This makes Jesus (the provider of grace) a better High Priest than those who served under the law. "By so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant."

Now, the one who died for us (to forgive our sins) is ever praying for us (that we might be thoroughly rescued from all else that threatens us). "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them."

Lord Jesus, my great High Priest, I bow to You as the eternal one, whose priesthood never ends. I rest in Your interceding prayers for me today, that I might be delivered from all that would come against me, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - June 13

The Better Aspects of the New Covenant of Grace

He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: "Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah." (Hebrews 8:6-8)

These verses contrast the old covenant of law ("that first covenant") with the new covenant of grace ("a second"). The old covenant of law was good, but the new covenant of grace is far better. The law is ordained of God, but it can never bring what God desires people to experience.

The law is good, but only if it is used properly. "We know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners" (1 Timothy 1:8-9). The lawful use of God's law pertains to the unrighteous, the rebellious. The law is not designed to give people a righteous standing in God's sight (justification). "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ" (Galatians 2:16). Nor is the law intended for developing a godly walk (sanctification) in those who are justified through faith in Christ. "For the law made nothing perfect" (Hebrews 7:19). The proper use of the law is to lead people to the grace of God found in Jesus Christ. "The law was our tutor to bring us to Christ" (Galatians 3:24).

Grace is far better than law. If the law was sufficient, then God would never have sent His Son to die for the establishing of a new covenant. "For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second." Since the law was lacking (regarding justification and sanctification), God's plan included the new covenant of grace. "Because finding fault with them, He says: 'Behold, the days are coming,' says the Lord, 'when I will make a new covenant'." The new covenant of grace has Jesus, the giver of life, as the Mediator. "He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant." This new covenant also has greater promises than the law: "a better covenant, which was established on better promises." In the days ahead, we will examine the better aspects of the grace of God.

Dear Father, I agree with You that Your law is good. It tutored me to Your magnificent grace. Lord, teach me the better aspects of Your grace, that I might fully embrace all that You want to accomplish in and through my life, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - June 12

More Reflections on Obedience by God's Grace

Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?…Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God. (Galatians 3:3 and 2 Corinthians 3:5)

Once again, let's reflect on previously studied passages that show how obedience to God is related to His grace. Galatians 3:3 fits in this helpful category.

Our beginning with God was brought about by the work of His Spirit. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5). We humbly admitted our sins, casting ourselves upon the mercy of God. The Holy Spirit brought us new birth, new life. This work of the Spirit is linked to the grace of God later in this same sentence: "that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:7). Thus, starting out with God is related to His Spirit applying His grace to our need.

Now, having experienced spiritual birth by the Spirit (by grace), would we be so foolish as to think that we could be spiritually developed by the flesh (by mere human activity)? "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" The only way that spiritual growth can follow spiritual birth is by the work of the Holy Spirit (that is, by the grace of God continuing to impact our lives). These same terms are the only explanation for the development of obedience in the life of a child of God. It must come from the Spirit applying grace to our hearts. "It is good that the heart be established by grace" (Hebrews 13:9).

2 Corinthians 3:5 is another passage that carries this same message about obedience. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God." We are hereby reminded that Christians are not the source of any godliness that is to develop in their lives. This would include obedience. We do not have within our own resources what it takes to produce an obedient life. Yet, we do have available to us daily all that we need to grow in pleasing God and doing His will. God is to be our source always for all things spiritual. How do we draw upon His comprehensive sufficiency? Humbly depend upon Him. God pours grace into the humble heart (James 4:6), and faith accesses grace (Romans 5:2).

Heavenly Father, would You develop obedience in me the same way You brought new life to me—by Your Spirit, by Your grace. I again confess my need for Your sufficient resources for growing in obedience, and I rely on You, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - June 11

Reflections on Obedience by God's Grace

For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace…that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 6:14 and 8:4)

Before we leave this vital subject of obedience, let's reflect upon how it is related to God's grace. Various key passages that we have examined can help us accomplish this goal.

Romans 6:14 is such a passage. Herein, we are told how to get out from under the domination of sin. "For sin shall not have dominion over you." Anyone who is ruled by sin is living in disobedience. Sin and disobedience are virtually synonymous. Grace is the path of deliverance from disobedience. "For you are not under law but under grace." Sin is transgression of the law of God. The law can call us to the holy standards of God, but the law cannot help us to obey those perfect standards. "For the law made nothing perfect" (Hebrews 7:19). Grace is God's resource for forgiveness of sin (thus rescuing us from the dominating penalty of sin): "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7). Grace is also God's strength for daily living in victory over sin (thereby rescuing us from the dominating influence of sin): "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 2:1).

Romans 8:4 is another passage that indicates the connection between obedience and grace. The opening words address a primary reason why Christ died on the cross: "that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us." It is God's desire that the holy demands of the law be increasingly lived out in our lives. This would amount to a life of obedience. The law itself could never produce this. "For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh" (Romans 8:3). What God's law could not do (because of man's inability to live up to it), God did through His Son. Now, by means of all that Christ has provided for us, we can live obediently. Who is it that walks in obedience? It is those who "do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." Christians who face each day by the flesh only access the carnal resources of natural man. On the other hand, those who depend daily upon the Spirit draw from the grace resources of a supernatural God.

Holy and gracious Father, I praise Your name that grace is the path to obedience. In light of my inadequacy, no other approach could ever be sufficient. Once again, I renounce my flesh and look to the work of Your Spirit to fulfill Your righteous requirements in my life, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - June 10

God Glorified by Working Obedience in Us

Now may the God of peace…make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Let's ponder once more these tremendous words in Hebrews 13:20-21. When the Lord works in us unto obedience ("what is well pleasing in His sight"), He Himself is the one who appropriately receives the glory ("to whom be glory forever and ever").

Throughout eternity, God is to be glorified and magnified by all. "I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: 'Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!' And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: 'Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!'" (Revelation 5:11-13).

Now, in the midst of time and space, God is also to be glorified in and through our lives. "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). What the Lord wants us to do for His glory is clearly revealed in His commands. In the New Testament, our Lord commands His new covenant servants in many areas. He calls us to genuine love, godly service, earnest prayer, and habitual hospitality: "Let love be without hypocrisy… serving the Lord…continuing steadfastly in prayer…given to hospitality" (Romans 12:9; 11, 12, 13). He instructs us to be truthful, hard-working, kind, and forgiving: "each one speak truth with his neighbor…let him labor, working with his hands what is good…be kind to one another… forgiving one another" (Ephesians 4:25, 28, 32).

These commands declare the attitudes and actions that are "well pleasing in His sight." These are the spiritual characteristics that He wants to bring forth by His work in us: "working in you what is well pleasing in His sight." When we seek the Lord to do such work in and through us, He is to be given all the glory and honor.

Glorious God of peace, may You be glorified in my life by making me complete in every good work to do Your will, working in me what is well pleasing in Your sight through Jesus Christ, Amen.

blueletterbible.com/devotion



"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - June 9.

God Working in Us What Pleases Him

Now may the God of peace…make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Once again, our attention is focused upon Hebrews 13:20-21. In the two previous devotionals, we saw that the God of peace makes obedience available to us through the blood of Christ and then He equips us to do His will. Now we will see that this involves God working in us what pleases Him.

Obedience is about pleasing God, doing "what is well pleasing in His sight." This is why Christ died for us. "He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again" (2 Corinthians 5:15). Living to please self is the ultimate disobedience to God. As God's children, we want to live for His approval. "Walk as children of light…proving what is acceptable to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:8-10).

The ordained means for us to live pleasing in His sight is God at work in us: "the God of peace…working in you what is well pleasing in His sight." We cannot properly live obedient, pleasing lives for God, unless we look to Him to work within us. When the Lord is relied upon to work within us, He then expresses His heart and will through us. "Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20). This is how the early church effectively pleased the Lord in their service. "For He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles" (Galatians 2:8).

Ultimately, pleasing God by doing His will is an internal matter of the heart. "That He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints" (1 Thessalonians 3:13). When our Lord returns, He wants to find obedient children. He wants His followers to be "blameless in holiness before our God and Father." This is only possible as we trust our God to do a spiritually stabilizing work deep within us: "That He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness."

Not surprisingly, all of God's working within us is done "through Jesus Christ." It is all based upon who Jesus is, all that He has done for us, and all that He alone can accomplish as He lives in us!

Lord God of peace, I long to live pleasing in Your sight, holy and true. Please do Your effective work deep within my heart, through Jesus Christ, my Lord, Amen.

blueletterbible.com/devotion



"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - June 8

God Equipping Us to Do His Will

Now may the God of peace…make you complete in every good work to do His will. (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Again, our devotional study is from Hebrews 13:20-21. In our previous meditation, we saw that the God of peace makes obedience possible through the shed blood of the crucified, risen Christ. That shed blood forgives our sins, making friends out of formerly disobedient enemies. Furthermore, that shed blood establishes the new covenant of grace, which supplies God's sufficiency for all our needs, including the developing of an obedient life.

Now, we will reflect upon God being the one who uses His heavenly resources to equip us to do His will. What a hope and joy this is! God Himself is willing to undertake the task of shaping us into His obedient servants: "Now may the God of peace… make you complete in every good work to do His will."

This term ("complete") is exceedingly insightful. It speaks of equipping people for their intended tasks, getting them ready to do what they are called to do. To equip means to furnish whatever qualities are necessary to perform the task at hand. To equip means to supply whatever is needed for an assigned purpose. Our calling and purpose in the will of God is that we engage in a great variety of good works. God is willing to equip us "in every good work to do His will."

Long ago, David was inspired of the Holy Spirit to speak boldly in similar terms. "The LORD will perfect that which concerns me" (Psalm 138:8). In light of David's calling to obedience (and our own calling to the same), many things concern us. We are called to serve, to sacrifice, to pray, to worship, to love, to evangelize, to edify-and the list continues. How are we to expect progress in such a broad range of obedience? Our confidence is that "The LORD will perfect that which concerns [us]."

As we have asked previously, is this equipping work of God unto obedience an automatic issue? Not at all! Remember, we can resist (Acts 7:51), quench (1 Thessalonians 5:19), and grieve (Ephesians 4:30) the work of the Spirit of grace in our lives. So what is our response to be? Since the Lord is the one who must equip us to do His will, we are to seek Him daily in the word and in prayer. We are to depend humbly upon Him. We must not look to ourselves, to formulas, or to any other false hope.

O God of peace, please do what only You can do. Equip me to obey You in every type of good work that is in Your will. I do not have what it takes to fulfill Your will for me. I often put my hope in vain places. Lord, I now look to You alone, in Jesus' name, Amen.

blueletterbible.com/devotion



"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - June 7

The God of Peace Making Obedience Available to Us

Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will. (Hebrews 13:20-21)

These powerful verses continue our inquiry concerning a life of obedience. They conclude with what results when God is relied upon to do His work in our lives. We become "complete in every good work to do His will." This hope is made available to us by "the God of peace."

We all started out in life at war with God. Although we may not have been aware of this fact, we were enemies of God: "You …were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works" (Colossians 1:21). We were disobedient by our very nature: "the sons of disobedience …by nature children of wrath" (Ephesians 2:2-3). Yet, through His Son, God reached out to offer us peace. "For He Himself is our peace, who… abolished in His flesh the enmity…making peace…through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity" (Ephesians 2:14-16). This sacrifice on the cross was effective, because the Lord Jesus was raised from the dead with victory over sin and death: "the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead."

At the cross of Christ, the blood that brings eternal blessings to all who believe in Him was shed: "through the blood of the everlasting covenant." The Lord promised these eternal benefits to His people through the prophets of old. "And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me . . . Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them" (Jeremiah 32:40 and Ezekiel 37:26).

The blood of the new covenant of grace secures these benefits: "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you" (Luke 22:20). This shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ cleanses and forgives forever all who humbly trust in Him. Also, this shed blood of the new covenant (God's new arrangement for living) supplies the adequacy we need from God for the obedient life He has called us to live: "Our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant" (2 Corinthians 3:5-6).

Dear God of peace, I praise You for the shed blood of Jesus, changing me from Your enemy to Your friend. I thank You for also making obedience available through this new covenant of grace. I humbly ask that You teach me to live in dependence upon Your sufficiency, Amen.

blueletterbible.com/devotion



"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - June 6

God Working in Us Both to Will and to Do

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

Again, our meditation is from Philippians 2:12-13. Yesterday, we saw that God must be allowed to work within our hearts, if we are to walk in obedience. "It is God who works in you…for His good pleasure." Today, we will consider the extent to which He desires to work: "both to will and to do." In order to fully obey the Lord, we need His work within us for both the willing and the doing.

First, the Lord wants to effect our willingness to obey Him (to fulfill "His good pleasure" ). So, He invites us into His word to learn of His will. "Oh, that My people would listen to Me… [and] walk in My ways!" (Psalm 81:13). Then, His word goes to work within our hearts, convicting us of our need to obey it. "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves" (James 1:22). All the while, He is nurturing in us a love for His word. "Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold!" (Psalm 119:127). Increasingly, we become willing to (we desire to) obey His word. "I delight to do Your will, O my God" (Psalm 40:8).

After working in our hearts a willingness to obey Him, the Lord also wants to work in us until we are doing His will. Yes, willing and doing are two different matters. We easily forget this distinction. We wrongly assume that once the willingness is present, the doing will inevitably follow. Jesus revealed the fallacy of this thinking in a well-known warning to His disciples. "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41). Even when our hearts are willing to obey, our flesh is inadequate to bring the willingness on to obedience. Thus, we are to recognize our need for prayer, that we might obey and not yield to temptation. The word even teaches us how to cry out to God for the internal inclination that we need to actually obey His will. "Make me walk in the path of Your commandments…Incline my heart to Your testimonies" (Psalm 119:35-36).

Dear gracious Lord, how wonderful that You want to work in me unto obedience. What a gift of Your grace that You desire comprehensive involvement in this vital process—from the willing to the doing. Lord, draw me day by day to Your word. Work in me a growing willingness to obey You. Also, strengthen me to actually do Your will, in Jesus' name, Amen.

blueletterbible.com/devotion


"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - June 5

God Working in Us unto Obedience

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

We have been considering how God wants us to grow in obedience to His will. The lordship of Jesus makes disobedience unacceptable. "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46). Also, our Lord taught His early disciples to instruct all future disciples about obedience: "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20). Our present passage offers profound insight by describing God working in us unto obedience. "It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."

This subject is introduced by a call to "work out your own salvation." Notice, we are not called to work for our salvation. Salvation is a gift of God's grace, freely received by faith. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). Still, this gift of salvation (that now resides within us by grace) is to be worked out (developed outwardly) unto an obedient life, a life that fulfills "His good pleasure."

This calling is to be approached in "fear and trembling." Initially, our approach may be one of unabashed self-confidence. Eventually, we begin to understand that we must respond in "fear" (a reverential awe) and "trembling" (a profound sense of inadequacy). The next phrase explains why we are to engage this responsibility with such unusual attitudes: "for it is God who works in you." If the salvation that God has placed in our inner man is to become a visible walk that pleases Him, it will always be a result of us allowing Him to do an ongoing work deep within us. "I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts…you are manifestly an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart" (Jeremiah 31:33 and 2 Corinthians 3:3). This is the wonder of true Christian living. It is based upon God working within our hearts.

Dear Lord, I praise You for the precious gift of salvation You have poured into my heart. I earnestly desire that this gift be worked outwardly unto a life that is pleasing to You. Lord, please touch and shape the depths of my heart that I may obey You in all things, in Jesus' name, Amen.

blueletterbible.com/devotion



"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - June 4

Obedience and the Life of Jesus

"And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him"…Christ in you, the hope of glory. (John 8:29 and Colossians 1:27)

Our Lord Jesus wants His followers to live in obedience to His will: "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20a). Our Lord is with us in every step of our pilgrimage, granting us His grace unto obedience. "I am with you always…through whom we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith" (Matthew 28:20b and Romans 1:4-5). This is also the way that Jesus lived here on earth in relationship with His heavenly Father. "And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him." The Father was with the Son, as the Son lived to please the Father.

Jesus came to earth to live in humble dependence upon, and full obedience to, the Father. "And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:8). Even though obedience led to the cross, Jesus obeyed the will of the Father. In the garden of Gethsemane, the obedient Son wrestled with the implications and impact of the impending cross. The holy, eternal One was to drink the cup of sin and death for all of us. His entire being was repulsed by that which was so contrary to His nature. "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death…O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me" (Matthew 26:38-39). Yet, He obediently yielded to the Father's will. "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will" (Matthew 26:39b). This is the ultimate example of obedience.

This same Jesus (who always pleased the Father, even unto death) now lives in us. This same Jesus is our "hope of glory." He is our hope (expectation, confidence) of making it to glory (heaven) some day. He is also our hope of walking in any heavenly reality here on the way to glory. He is our hope of an obedient life.

Obedience is essentially related to the life of Jesus. The life Jesus lived on earth is our perfect example of obedience. The life He now wants to live in and through us is our glorious hope of obedience.

Lord Jesus, I look at Your life on earth and I see the obedience that I yearn to experience. I know that I can not produce such a life on my own. I think of You living in me, and I have hope that I can grow in obedience. So, I place my hope in You to express Your obedient heart in and through my choices, my words, my actions, my entire life, Amen.

blueletterbible.com/devotion




"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - June 3

Obedience and the Lordship of Jesus

"But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord' and do not do the things which I say?…Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them…[and] teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Luke 6:46 and Matthew 28:19-20)

As servants of the new covenant of grace, the Lordship of Jesus is part of our message. "For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord" (2 Corinthians 4:5). The early church proclaimed Jesus as Lord. "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ…The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ-He is Lord of all… believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…Then Paul dwelt two whole years… teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:36; 10:36; 16:31; and 28:30-31).

The Scriptures often emphasize the fact that Jesus is our Lord. The opening verses of Paul's first letter to Corinth is a clear example. "Paul…to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus…with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord…Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ…you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ…who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:1-10).

Clearly, it is right for followers of Jesus to call Him Lord. Yet, to call Him Lord and then disobey Him is a contradiction. "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?" After believing in Jesus and identifying with Him in water baptism, disciples are to be growing in obedience: "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you." As we are learning to walk in obedience, Jesus is ever present with us. "I am with you always." Day by day, He offers the grace we need for obedience: "Declared to be the Son of God with power…through whom we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith" (Romans 1:4-5).

Lord Jesus, I long for my verbal confession of Your Lordship to be validated by my daily growth in obedience. You are my Master. Grant me grace each day to be obedient to the faith, in Your sovereign name I pray, Amen.

blueletterbible.com/devotion



"To God be the glory!!"


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