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2/13/16 9:36 A

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Day By Day By Grace - February 13

Once More on Grace and Spiritual Fruit

The fruit of the Spirit is…kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Galatians 5:22-23 and Philippians 1:11)

As the Holy Spirit works the grace of God in our hearts, the various aspects of spiritual fruit are manifested through us. "The fruit of the Spirit is… kindness." Kindness is moral goodness and integrity conveyed toward others. It includes showing concern and consideration to people, desiring not to offend them. "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another" (Ephesians 4:31-32).

"The fruit of the Spirit is… goodness." Goodness is quite similar to the preceding term, kindness. The additional perspectives contained in goodness would be acts of generosity and beneficence. This somewhat repetitious concept indicates the high priority that God places upon our treatment of others.

"The fruit of the Spirit is… faithfulness." Faithfulness embodies responsibility and loyalty. It also comprises reliability and consistency. "Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful" (1 Corinthians 4:2).

"The fruit of the Spirit is… gentleness." Gentleness is explained by such terms as meekness and lowliness. Such quality of character takes on special significance when we recall these words of Jesus. "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 11:29).

"The fruit of the Spirit is… self-control." Self-control is a fascinating subject, because it is not what it seems to be at first. Natural human thinking would assume it refers to self keeping self under control. Such a description would have to be listed under the previous verses pertaining to "the works of the flesh" (Galatians 5:19). Here, it describes the Spirit of God maintaining control over our lives.

When we reflect upon the fruit of the Spirit, the character of Christ typically comes to mind. This is appropriate, since godly fruit comes to us through the presence of Jesus in our lives. "Being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." When we depend upon the Holy Spirit, He imparts the life of Jesus, our true vine, into and through our experience. The character of Christ is then seen in us. Consequently, all glory and praise goes to God!

Dear Lord Jesus, how I long to be more like You. I can easily be selfish, inconsistent, or out of control. I see that only Your Holy Spirit working in me can bring the necessary fruit. Lord, I pray, work deeply in me by Your irreplaceable grace, for Your glory and praise, Amen.

blueletterbible.org/devotionals


"To God be the glory!!"


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2/12/16 7:26 A

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Day By Day By Grace - February 12

Even More on Grace and Spiritual Fruit

"He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit"…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering. (John 15:5 and Galatians 5:22)

As we abide in Christ, spiritual fruit develops in our lives. This occurs as the Holy Spirit applies the grace resources of God to our inner man. This spiritual produce then appears as godly character in us.

Love is the primary indication that we are trusting the Lord to bring forth fruit in us. "The fruit of the Spirit is love." In fact, some see love as the singular fruit, with joy, peace, etc., as aspects of that love. This is divine love ("agape" love), a love that flows from the heart of God. "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God" (1 John 4:7). Such love is not stirred by the "loveability" of the object. It is a unique, heavenly love available only from the Lord.

"The fruit of the Spirit is… joy." Joy is gladness of heart, an inner spiritual happiness that does not depend upon circumstances. It is a spiritual delight in the Lord that is always available, no matter what is happening around us. "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4).

"The fruit of the Spirit is… peace." This peace is related to a cessation of hostility between parties. It affects our relationship with the Lord. "We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). It also impacts our relationship with others. "For He Himself is our peace, who has made both [i. e., Jew and Gentile] one, and has broken down the middle wall of division between us" (Ephesians 2:14). This peace also involves a spiritual calm and tranquility within our hearts. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

"The fruit of the Spirit is… longsuffering." Longsuffering would include patience and forbearance. It would embrace a willingness to forgive and to not seek vengeance. "Put on…longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another" (Colossians 3:12-13).

Note carefully; we do not produce these qualities by our capabilities. This fruit is a work of God in us: "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering…."

O Lord, my hope and my sufficiency, I readily confess that at times I am unloving, joyless, strife-torn, or impatient. Lord Jesus, I want to abide in You. Please work in me by Your Holy Spirit. Bring forth this beautiful spiritual fruit of Christlikeness in my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

blueletterbible.org/devotionals

"To God be the glory!!"


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2/11/16 7:43 A

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Day By Day By Grace - February 11

More on Grace and Spiritual Fruit

"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." (John 15:4-5)

Although these verses do not mention grace, they are a classic biblical explanation of grace bringing forth fruit. The language depicts an actual vineyard, where fruit grows on branches that are properly related to a vine. Then, this physical reality is applied figuratively to spiritual fruit developing in our lives, if we are relating correctly to Jesus.

In this teaching, our Lord reminds us that literal branches are not able to produce fruit themselves. "The branch cannot bear fruit of itself." We are spiritual branches, so we will not be able to produce fruit either. "Neither can you, unless you abide in Me." In fact, our potential for manufacturing genuine spiritual fruit is zero. "Without Me you can do nothing." The best we could ever hope to produce would be religious, wax fruit (an imitation of the real thing). Such would come from our fleshly attempts to appear godly or effective. People may be fooled by this, but God never is. Moreover, others cannot be edified by partaking of such, nor can God be glorified.

True fruit results from the ongoing development of life. Life is inherent to vines, not branches. For a grape to develop on any grape branch, the life of the vine must flow into, and work within, the branch. So it is with us. "I am the vine, you are the branches." This distinction is vital. We must never forget the difference, if we desire to bear fruit. The life we need for fruitfulness originates in Him, not in us.

How do we avail ourselves of that life which is essential for fruit? "Abide in Me, and I in you." We are to look to Jesus for life, counting on Him to live in and through us. Then His life, working in us, brings forth Christlike fruit. How do we know if we are abiding? If we are willing to depend upon Jesus for spiritual fruit as a grape branch relies upon its vine for grapes, then we are truly abiding in Christ. Such dependency brings valid expectation for great measures of Christlikeness to be developing in and through our lives. "He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit."

This is clearly grace at work, as seen in the relational realities of humility and faith. Humility is operating as we acknowledge "without Me you can do nothing."

Faith is exercised as we believe "He who abides in Me…bears much fruit."

Lord Jesus, my true vine, I humbly agree with You that I cannot produce spiritual fruit on my own. I admit that apart from You at work in me, I could never manifest any genuine godliness. So, with great expectation I look to You to provide the life I need

blueletterbible.org/devotionals



"To God be the glory!!"


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2/10/16 7:35 A

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Day By Day By Grace - February 10

Grace and Spiritual Fruit

The word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth. (Colossians 1:5-6)

The Lord wants His children to have significant measures of spiritual fruit developing in their lives. "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit" (John 15:8). Fruit is described in the Scriptures in various ways. It includes godly character qualities. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…" (Galatians 5:22). Also, it involves worship offered to God. "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" (Hebrews 13:15). Additionally, it encompasses lives being touched by our ministry to them. "I often planned to come to you…that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles" (Romans 1:13).

Such spiritual fruit is a consequence of God's grace at work in and through us. Colossians 1:5-6 addresses this fact. "The word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you…is bringing forth fruit." The good news of Jesus Christ not only brings forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life, it also produces fruit in those who believe. All of this is grace operating in trusting hearts: "Since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth."

Romans 7:4 describes this same glorious process, using different terms. "Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God." In order to bear fruit unto the Lord, we had to first be released from our dead relationship to the law. We could not perform effectively under that demanding standard. Thus, our lives were spiritually fruitless before God. Next, we needed to be joined in a new, living relationship with the risen Christ, that we might partake of His grace resources for living. We have experienced both through faith in the Lord Jesus. Now, the risen Christ works by His grace in and through our lives, as we humbly depend upon Him.

Yes, the grace of God is His designated dynamic for producing spiritual fruit in our everyday lives.

Lord God of my salvation, thank You for the glorious message of the gospel. What good news it is to have forgiveness, eternal life, and daily transformation through Your grace. I embrace Your will that I bear much fruit. Lord Jesus, I rejoice that You have taken me out from under the law. I now look to You, the risen Lord, to bring forth spiritual fruit in and through my life, in Your exalted name, Amen

blueletterbible.org/devotionals


"To God be the glory!!"


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2/9/16 8:11 A

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Day By Day By Grace - February 9

Reflecting on Grace: Humility and Faith

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich…Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God…"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." (2 Corinthians 8:9; 3:5 and Luke 9:23)

Let's take a reflective look at humility and faith. We have repeatedly encountered these two relational realities. This is to be expected, since "God…gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6), and "we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Romans 5:2).

In our first devotional study, humility and faith were evident. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich." In order for Jesus to rescue us from our desperate situation, He had to become poor. When He hung on the cross for us, He took the spiritual poverty of our sin and guilt upon Himself. What a humbling picture of our inborn spiritual condition. Basically, we had to agree with the Lord, humbling ourselves before Him, asking for His help. Additionally, faith was involved. We had to believe that through His death, we could become spiritually rich, that is, forgiven of sin and righteous in His sight.

Humility and faith were later seen as vital for walking in this new life in Christ. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God." The sufficiency we need for Christian living does not originate in us. Actually, we must not think of "anything as being from ourselves." How humbling to learn, even as born-again believers, that we need the Lord in everything. Then, how do we find the necessary resources? This is where faith applies. "Our sufficiency is from God." This is truth that we are to believe.

When we examined Christian discipleship, humility and faith again appeared. "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Luke 9:23). Jesus' call to come and follow Him can only be received by those who will say, "No to self" and "Death to self." This is humiliating to the self-life, to think it is not good enough, to admit that it belongs on the cross. This is especially humbling when we see that these are to be our daily confessions. The rest of the discipleship issue is settled by faith, trusting in Jesus each step of every day.

Dear Heavenly Father, give me this perspective on the Christian life. Teach me, Lord, touch my heart, that I might be willing to walk humbly before You day by day. Build my faith, Lord, that I might depend upon You step by step throughout each day!

blueletterbible.org/devotionals


"To God be the glory!!"


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2/8/16 7:58 A

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Day By Day By Grace - February 8

More on Faith and Grace

The just shall live by faith…So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God…I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him. (Romans 1:17; 10:17 and 2 Timothy 1:12)

The entire Christian walk is designed to be lived by faith. "The just shall live by faith." In every step of every day, in every issue that we face, we are to rely upon the Lord. This path of trust accesses grace. Faith allows us to receive and respond to the grace that God desires to shower upon us. Remember, faith is what corresponds with grace. "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace" (Romans 4:16). Trying our hardest does not ensure God's grace working in and through us. Attempting to be passive does not bring forth a display of His grace. However, humbly trusting in the Lord, whether taking action or patiently waiting, will always result in His grace undertaking for us.

Yet, how does one specifically learn to live by faith? "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." As we get into the Scriptures, desiring to hear from the Lord, faith has opportunity to grow. Through the word, God speaks to us about Himself and His ways. He tells us His plans and purposes. He provides insights into reality. He drives away illusions and misconceptions. He offers promises and assurances. As we are thereby getting to know who the Lord is and what He wants to do, we are stirred to trust Him to work these matters into our lives. We face trials or opportunities, and we trust Him to be faithful. We learn of our own inadequacy and are driven to His sufficiency. We look to the Lord in daily personal issues, and He proves faithful. Through it all, our faith continues to grow in response to what the Lord is revealing to us and is doing for us. This is God's grace at work, because His word is "the word of His grace" (Acts 20:32).

This process illustrates the relational reality of faith. Faith is not something we can produce. It results from getting to know the Lord more and more. Paul spoke of this pattern in part of his testimony. "I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him." As the years passed, Paul was getting acquainted with the Lord in whom he had first believed. Then, as this relationship with Christ developed, Paul was increasingly convinced of his Master's ability to handle any matter entrusted into His hands. All the while, Paul's growing faith was drawing upon the resources of God's grace.

O Lord, my God, I want to live daily by faith in You. Please work in my heart a growing appetite for Your word, that my faith may develop, as I am hearing from You. Forgive me for taking matters into my own hands and not looking to You. Show me situations that I need to entrust to You. This I humbly pray, in Jesus' name, Amen.

blueletterbible.org/devotionals


"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - February 7

Faith and Grace

Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand…therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace…"the just shall live by faith." (Romans 5:2; 4:16; 1:17)

As noted previously, faith accesses the grace of God. "Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand." When we first trusted in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we enjoyed our initial access into grace. God intends for His children to continue accessing grace day by day throughout their lives. Every time we face any matter with dependence upon the Lord Jesus, we are drawing from the bottomless ocean of God's grace. Thereby, His grace becomes our resource for living.

The resources of God's grace cannot be earned, deserved, or produced by man. They must be freely provided by the Lord. From beginning to end, the saving, rescuing, transforming work of God's grace is "the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). This truth highlights the strategic nature of faith. Only faith accords with grace. "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace." Faith alone is compatible with grace. Any other approach will not fit with grace.

This marks another profound distinction between law and grace. "Yet the law is not of faith, but 'The man who does them shall live by them'" (Galatians 3:12). The law is about performance. Those who live by the law are left to their own resources to work up a life that measures up to the perfect standards of God. Those who daily put their faith in the Lord Jesus for the issues of life access grace for godly living.

It is God's will that we live our entire lives by faith (which accesses grace). "The just shall live by faith." This truth is comprehensive. It applies to every aspect of our lives. When we arise in the morning, we can entrust the day into the Lord's care and guidance. As we communicate with our families, we can depend upon Jesus for love and patience. In our drive to the office, we can pray in faith concerning the opportunities and challenges that may await us. If a crisis develops unexpectedly, we can immediately cry out to the Lord for peace and direction. When times of Bible study and worship approach, we can exercise faith toward God to make them spiritually genuine and personally effective. Whatever, whenever, whoever, "The just shall live by faith."

Dear faithful Lord, I long to live by faith more and more as each day dawns. I see that this is the only way I can access Your glorious grace. Lord, I need Your grace constantly. No other resource will suffice. Too often I am striving by my best performance. What weariness and failure always results. Show me the areas of my life where I am not trusting in You, that I might look to You anew. In Your gracious name I pray, Amen.

blueletterbible.org/devotionals


"To God be the glory!!"


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2/6/16 9:03 A

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Day By Day By Grace - February 6

More on Humility and Grace

Be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble"…And whoever exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (1 Peter 5:5 and Matthew 23:12)

The Lord wants humility to be the spiritual attire that adorns our character. "Be clothed with humility." This is crucial, since "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." We cannot live by grace unless we are willing to walk in humility. Any other approach is some form of pride, which always meets God's resistance. These are absolutes that every person must face. "Whoever exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." The Scriptures describe numerous individuals who demonstrate these truths.

Nebuchadnezzar exalted himself. "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?" (Daniel 4:30). God opposed this self-exaltation by driving the king out into the fields to eat grass like an animal. Eventually, this banished king looked to heaven, and the Lord restored him to the throne. Then, magnifying the true King, he proclaimed the great lesson he had learned. "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven…And those who walk in pride He is able to abase" (Daniel 4:37).

Manasseh, while king in Jerusalem, also exalted himself. He did so in a most wicked manner, polluting God's temple with idolatry. "He built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD…He even set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God" (2 Chronicles 33:5, 7). In doing so, he enticed the people of God into untold abominations. "So Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel" (2 Chronicles 33:9). As a consequence of this prideful rebellion, the Lord caused Manasseh to be taken captive into Babylon. Then, Manasseh humbled himself before God. In spite of his arrogant disobedience, the Lord heard his prayer and restored him to the throne. "Now when he was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom" (2 Chronicles 33:12-13).

Truly, everyone who lifts himself up in pride will be brought low in shame; but any person who walks in humility will be lifted up to liberation and blessing.

Dear King of heaven and earth, I am convicted of times when I have behaved proudly, just as these two kings did. It has always led to my spiritual defeat and bondage. I thank You for drawing my heart toward humility. I humbly turn to You to pour out Your grace upon me, as You did upon them. Through Christ I pray, Amen.

blueletterbible.org/devotionals


"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - February 5

Humility and Grace

Be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (1 Peter 5:5)

We have considered that humility and faith must be developing within our lives, if we are going to grow in grace. Let's take a few days to reconsider both, looking first at humility. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

Pride leads the list of things that God despises. "These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue" (Proverbs 6:16-17). God wants our lives to be edified; pride is destructive. "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18). The Lord desires that people be established in truth; pride is deceptive. "The pride of your heart has deceived you" (Obadiah v. 3). It is God's will that we grow in things that are honorable; pride brings disgrace. "When pride comes, then comes shame" (Proverbs 11:2). Our Lord does not want His name dishonored or our lives destroyed by pride.

On the other hand, humility is a character trait that God loves to develop in us. Note the terms God uses in His word to describe humility. "Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud" (Proverbs 16:19). The Lord reveals that it is better to be a humble person, who associates with modest people, than to partake of the wealth that the arrogant can often accumulate.

Also the Lord says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3). Here we are told that humility is a blessing, because the kingdom (the spiritual realm of God's rule and provision) is given to the humble.

Elsewhere God revealed, "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isaiah 57:15). Although our Lord is most fully revealed in His heavenly abode on high, He also dwells with the humble and the broken on earth below, bringing them spiritual revitalization.

Of course, we cannot manufacture humility. It is a relational reality that results from getting to know the Lord. Isaiah discovered this. "I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up…Then I said: 'Woe is me, for I am undone'!" (Isaiah 6:1, 5). When the Lord was revealed in all His glory, Isaiah responded in profound humility. This can happen in our lives, as we get into the Scriptures, seeking a deeper relationship with the Lord. As He is increasingly revealed to us, our response will be increasingly characterized by more humility.

O God Most High, I repent of those many times when pride was the despicable attitude I displayed. Lord, teach me to despise pride as You do. Stir in my heart a growing appreciation of humility. I desire to be clothed with humility. I humbly seek You afresh that I might live by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

blueletterbible.org/devotionals


"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - February 4

Living by Grace: Humility and Faith

God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble…through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand. (James 4:6 and Romans 5:2)

How does a believer in Jesus Christ access the ongoing, sanctifying grace of God for daily godliness? It is accessed the same way that the initial, justifying grace of God was acquired-by humility and faith. We were justified, declared righteous in God's sight, when we humbly trusted in the Lord Jesus. We humbly agreed with the Lord's account of our guilty condition. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 3:23; 6:23a). We also put our trust in Christ concerning His offer of life (based upon His death and resurrection on our behalf). "But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23b). Thereby we partook of the justifying grace of God through humility and faith. This is how the Lord wants us to continue to relate to Him for sanctifying grace.

Our God wants us to walk in humility, because grace is what we need for growth in godly living. Remember this great truth of grace: "But grow in the grace…of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). If we are unwilling to walk in humility, we will not enjoy this wondrous sanctifying impact of grace, because "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." When we live by self-sufficiency, God resists us. When we walk in humility, God gives us grace for living.

Our God also wants us to walk in faith, because faith accesses grace. "Through whom [Christ] also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand." We now stand in a kingdom that offers "grace upon grace" (John 1:16). Abundant grace is available for every step we are to take. This grace is partaken of by faith. Whenever we trust in the Lord Jesus concerning any issue of life, we are reaching by faith into God's unlimited resources of grace, by which we are enabled to live effectively.

Hereby we see that living by grace involves two relational realities: humility and faith. We do not produce either. Neither one is a work. Humility admits we cannot do the work (of being holy, loving, perfect). Faith relies upon the work of another, the Lord Jesus Christ. These two attributes become real in our lives through a growing relationship with the Lord. The more we get to know the Lord Jesus Christ, to that degree humility and faith will become realities in our lives.

O Lord, You are my salvation, from justification throughout a lifetime of sanctification. Forgive me for underestimating my need for You. Forgive me concerning the self-sufficient, self-confident ways by which I have often lived. I humble myself before You. I want to live by trust and confidence in You. I long to live by Your grace, not by my best efforts. Help me to know You, that humility and faith might develop in my life, Amen.

blueletterbible.org/devotionals


"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - February 3

Access to Grace

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all…For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ…And God is able to make all grace abound toward you. (Revelation 22:21; 2 Corinthians 8:9; and 9:8)

We have seen that abundant grace is available from the Lord, not only for justification, but also for sanctification. Yet, how does a person access the sanctifying grace of God? How does one actually live day by day by grace? Soon, we will consider the two relational realities that God wants to develop in our lives so we might live daily by His grace. First, let's reflect upon where that grace is found and the ability upon which it all depends.

The grace we need is always found in a person, not a procedure. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ." Consequently, in order to access this grace, we must seek after the person in whom the grace resides. No wonder that many of the letters of the New Testament end with "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all."

Our God does not waste words. He does not speak vainly. Nor does He stand on human formalities. These repetitious conclusions signify an emphasis from the heart of God. When the Scriptures conclude any subject to any people, the ongoing need will ever be that they learn to live by the grace that is found in Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, upon whose ability does the Christian life depend? We so easily become preoccupied with our ability. "Will I be able to please and serve God?" "Will I be able to be an effective witness?" The focus of the word of God is on His ability, not ours. "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace" (Daniel 3:17). "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him" (Hebrews 7:25). "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling" (Jude v. 24). "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20).

Concerning drawing upon God's grace, we may be thinking: "Will I be able to live by God's grace?" Again, God's ability is the issue, not ours. "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you." If we are willing to rely upon the One who is able (our Lord), we will experience abundantly His sanctifying grace in our lives.

Dear Lord, teach me these great matters of accessing Your grace. Remind me often that grace is found in Jesus. I confess my tendency to explain the Christian life by a formula, instead of by a person. Help me to remember that living by grace depends upon Your matchless ability. I admit my inclination to hope in my inept ability. So, Lord, I now look to You to abundantly pour out Your grace upon my life, through Christ Jesus, my Lord, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - February 2

Grace Perfecting Strength in Weakness

"My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness"…He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (2 Corinthians 12:9 and Isaiah 40:29-31)

When the subject of spiritual strength is raised, our thinking often turns in one of two directions. Either we consider how we can muster up our own strength, or we dwell on our own weakness, doubting that adequate strength can ever be found. Well, it is clear from the Scriptures that God does not expect mere human strength to be sufficient for our spiritual callings. "Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall." Natural strength is never more evident than in youth. Yet, even that supply is not what people need for spiritual endurance.

God's word is also clear that an awareness of our weakness need never lead to despair over finding strength. Actually, the opposite is true. When we realize our drastic insufficiency, that is God's reminder to seek His supply of strength. "He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength." Those who admit that they are weak are the very ones to whom God offers His strength. Those who confess that they have no might at all are the people God strengthens increasingly.

It is an amazing truth that God's strength is perfected (displayed the most fully) in the arena of our own weaknesses. "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Whenever we agree with God concerning our complete frailty in any given area of life, His grace is available to meet the need. Whenever we personally look to Him to pour out that strength, we will find that it is sufficient. "Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength."

Waiting upon the Lord involves hoping in Him and placing our expectations upon Him, not upon ourselves. For all who depend upon Him in view of their own weakness, "they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Thereby, our confession can be: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).

Lord, You are my only hope and my sufficient strength. On my own I am hopeless and powerless. Thank You for Your gracious patience when I think my human strength is enough. Lord, I am weak; give me Your power. I have no might; increase Your strength in me. I wait upon You. I put my expectations in You. Unleash Your glorious grace in me, perfecting Your all-sufficient strength in my life, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - February 1

Strengthened by Grace

Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:1)

Great strength is necessary for living as God intends. The grace of our Lord Jesus is where that strength is to be found. "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." Some of the specific reasons we need strength are listed in the immediate context of this verse.

Part of our calling as believers in Christ is passing on to others the biblical truths that God has taught us. "And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Timothy 2:2). Discipling others in God's truth can be demanding and discouraging. Strength is needed. "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."

Another aspect of our life as disciples of Jesus is functioning as spiritual soldiers. "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (verse 3). We are the Lord's warriors in a worldwide, lifelong spiritual battle. The battle has been won by our Commander, Jesus. However, the enemy will not stop striking back until he is confined forever. As Jesus' soldiers, we face many hardships. Again, strength is needed. "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."

Another perspective on following Jesus is that of an athlete. "And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules" (verse 5). As it is in athletics, the Christian life requires discipline, training, and the exertion of great measures of energy. Yet again, strength is needed. "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."

One additional analogy of our life in Christ is that of a farmer. "The hard-working farmer must be first to partake of the crops" (verse 6). As with farmers, we are to sow the seed of the word upon people's hearts. We are to water that seed through prayer. We are to reap a harvest of righteousness. Farming is strenuous work. Once more, strength is needed. "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."

How wonderful that God did not limit His grace to justification. We need it just as much for sanctification. We need His grace to strengthen us for the diverse spiritual roles that God has for us as disciplers, soldiers, athletes, and farmers. For all of this the only sufficient resource is to "be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."

O Lord of all might and power, I desire to be a faithful discipler, a sacrificial soldier, a disciplined runner, and a laboring farmer. Lord this sounds so right, so good. Yet, You know that I am intimidated by it all as well. I hear the call, and I want to respond; but my strength is so inadequate. So, I look to You and implore You to strengthen me by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, Amen.

blueletterbible.org/devotionals

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Day By Day By Grace - January 31

God's Grace Teaching Us

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, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:11-13)

Time and again, we have considered the connection between grace and justification. "Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Romans 3:24 and Ephesians 1:7). Now, we have an opportunity to ponder once more the relationship between grace and sanctification. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men." It is God's grace that brings salvation to mankind. For nearly 2,000 years, that saving grace of the Lord has been offered to humanity through the preaching of the gospel. This particular verse now adds another function to the work of grace. "For the grace of God [is] teaching us."

The grace of God not only saves the souls of all who believe; it also works in believers' lives to teach and instruct them. God's grace, working through His word ("The word of His grace"-Acts 20:32), instructs and shapes our thinking and living: "Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age." It is the will of our Heavenly Father that His children turn away from that which is worldly and spiritually compromising. He wants us to walk in godliness, in Christlikeness. God works this into our hearts by His grace.

God's grace also develops expectant lives, eager to have the Lord Jesus return for His people: "Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ."

The grace of God impacting our hearts through His word by His Spirit is His divine means to bring about such transformation in us. To view sanctification as something we can produce through our own performance (that is, by law) is akin to overlooking God's grace and underestimating the provisions of the cross of Christ. "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain" (Galatians 2:21).

Dear Jesus, my great God and Savior, I want to live in eager anticipation of Your return. Meanwhile, I desire to please You by growing in godliness and in applied righteousness. Thank You for Your longsuffering love, patiently teaching me by Your grace—the grace that I sometimes neglect, attempting to produce these realities by the striving of my flesh. From such vanity I turn to hope in You, Lord Jesus, Amen.

blueletterbible.org/devotionals


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Day By Day By Grace - January 30th

The Ability of God's Grace

And now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance. (Acts 20:32)

God's grace has such marvelous ability. It is able to give the eternal inheritance of God to His children. It is also able to build up their lives here on earth for greater service and increased fruitfulness.

It is by the grace of the Lord that we can anticipate being recipients of a heavenly inheritance. "The word of His grace, which is able to … give you an inheritance." One qualifies for an inheritance by being born into a family. We have been born into the family of God. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name: who were born…of God" (John 1:12-13). We who believe in Jesus are God's children, "and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:17). We are blessed beyond measure to know that heavenly treasures of fellowship, worship, and service await God's children in glory above. All of these eternal riches are ours by the grace of God alone.

God's amazing grace also has the ability to build us up as we await our inheritance here on earth below: "The word of His grace, which is able to build you up." This edification process involves having our spiritual roots of hunger and trust growing deep into the Lord. Christ wants our lives to undergo continual spiritual construction and transformation. He wants our character to become increasingly stabilized in the faith, as revealed in His word. "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith" (Colossians 2:6-7).

It is the will of God that we be edified. "Let all things be done for edification" (1 Corinthians 14:26). All along the way from new birth into His family until our full heavenly inheritance as His family, God desires that His children be spiritually strengthened and increasingly developed in Christian maturity. Our ministry to one another can be instrumental in this edification process. "Let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another…Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification" (Romans 14:19; 15:2). It is essential to remember, however, that God's grace is what accomplishes the building up process: "The word of His grace, which is able to build you up."

My God and Father, I rejoice exceedingly as I think of the inheritance that You are preparing for me by Your grace. O Lord, my strength, I need Your mighty work of grace that I might be edified myself and be edifying to Your children. Please purge my life of any matters that are not edifying, all by the grace of Jesus, my Lord, Amen.

blueletterbible.org/devotionals


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Day By Day By Grace - January 29

The New Covenant: Grace, Not Law

"I will make a new covenant…not according to the covenant I made"…the gospel of the grace of God. (Jeremiah 31:31-32 and Acts 20:24)

The old covenant of law was the covenant that God made with Israel "in the day that [He] took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt" (Jeremiah 31:32b). The promise through Jeremiah was that the Lord would make a different type of covenant some day, "not according to [that] covenant." This new covenant would be a covenant of grace, provided by the Lord Jesus Christ. "For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17).

The law of God was an impossible way to relate to the Lord. It required perfection, but it offered no perfecting assistance. It was able, however, to convince people of their need for the grace of Christ found in the new covenant. "The law was our tutor to bring us to Christ" (Galatians 3:24).

Now, we live and proclaim this new covenant of grace, the "new and living way which He consecrated for us" (Hebrews 10:20). This was the mission and message of which the Apostle Paul spoke. "The ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24). The gospel is all about the grace of God, not about law. "The word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you…the grace of God" (Colossians 1:5-6).

Gospel means "glad tidings," or "good news." The good news of the grace of God provided through Jesus Christ is the supreme message for man in all of creation. In fact, the gospel of grace is such good news that some unbelievers initially reject it as "too good to be true." Indeed, it is an astounding reality to consider that forgiveness, justification, and new birth are all available "by grace…through faith…the gift of God, not of works" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Perhaps, we should not be surprised that we believers sometimes react in this same manner when we consider the message of grace for growth and sanctification. To hear that the entire Christian life is to be "grace upon grace" (John 1:16) may at first seem to us "too good to be true."

At times we may ask, "Isn't there any human responsibility in God's plan of salvation?" Yes, there is. The saved and unsaved alike must always be willing to respond to the offer of God's grace in Christ. We must all relate properly to the Lord Jesus for every work of grace, because it is "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 8:9). In all matters, we must seek Him and trust in Him.

Lord God of the new covenant, how glorious is the good news of Your grace! I praise You for Your patience when I act as though transforming grace is too good to be true. I want to seek after the Lord Jesus and trust in Him this day, with all my heart, Amen.

blueletterbible.org/devotionals


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Day By Day By Grace - January 28

Growing in the Grace of God

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18)

Let's reflect upon some of the heavenly territory we have explored thus far. Grace is for spiritual growth and progress in the Lord. It is not intended only for birthing and starting out with the Lord. "But grow in the grace…of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Growth in Christ always results as God's grace works in us.

At times, we can be apprehensive about such an emphasis upon God's grace. We become concerned that irresponsibility, ungodliness, laziness, or indulgence will result. We can rest assured on the promises and purposes of God that true grace does not produce such consequences. Ungodly living always involves the flesh of man, which is inclined toward licentiousness and legalism.

Licentiousness hopes to turn grace into a means by which sinful indulgence is acceptable. "For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness" (Jude v.4). Legalism aspires to add religious performance to grace, thereby appealing to the self-righteous hopes of man. "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:2-3).

When a person truly lives by the grace of God, righteousness results, not ungodliness. As a person increasingly learns to draw upon God's grace for daily living, Christlikeness develops, not worldliness. As grace becomes our resource for life, sin diminishes; it does not increase. "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under law but under grace" (Romans 6:14).

The temptation is to rely upon the law of God in order to generate godliness. The demand of the law to be holy, loving, and perfect becomes a false security to our flesh. We think that by hearing, repeating, or striving to meet this demand, we can thereby accomplish it. Let us not forget that "the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope" (Hebrews 7:18-19). God's grace is the "better hope" that does not fail to bring forth what God desires.

The Lord has ordained for us a life-long involvement with His grace. He wants to work "grace for [upon] grace" (John 1:16) for the rest of our days. This is the "new and living way" (Hebrews 10:20). Perhaps this could all be summarized in another acronym on grace: "Glorious Realities As Christ Empowers.

Gracious Father, how bountiful is Your provision for my spiritual growth. How foolish of me to think that I need more for developing in godliness than Your grace supplies. O Lord, I long to grow in the image of Christ. I beseech You, remind me and convince me that Your grace is the only sufficient hope. In Jesus' name, I pray, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - January 27

The Ongoing Grace of God

"I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts"…it is good that the heart be established by grace. (Jeremiah 31:33 and Hebrews 13:9)

Our initial encounter with the grace of God involved forgiveness and justification. "In Him we have our redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7). Rich measures of God's grace washed away our sins and gave us new life in Christ. Of course, that initial justifying work of God could not exhaust His grace. Rather, it was "according to the riches of His grace." There are unlimited riches yet available for our daily sanctification, our ongoing growth in Christ.

Hebrews 13:9 is one of the many places in Scripture that indicate progressive sanctification (that is, growth in godliness) is by grace. "It is good that the heart be established by grace." This truth clearly pertains to sanctification and growth, not justification and new birth. At regeneration, we are given a new heart. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 36:26). Then, after receiving a new, soft, responsive heart, the spiritual stabilization of that new heart must follow.

It is from within the heart that the development of applied righteousness must proceed. What is eventually seen and heard in our daily Christian lives sources from within the core of our inner being. "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23). The Lord wants to work from deep within us. "I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts."

If an unstable, inconsistent life is being expressed outwardly, an unestablished heart within is the cause. Jesus taught that "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34). Whatever is developing and filling up our inner man will eventually come out to be seen and heard.

In order to develop in us an increasingly mature, Christlike walk, our heart must be established. The law of God is not designed to change men's hearts. God's grace is the essential and sufficient cause to bring about this desired work of godliness. "It is good that the heart be established by grace."

Once more we have powerful biblical insight showing us that grace is not only God's provision to forgive and birth us into His family, but grace is also His resource for the ongoing work of maturing us as His children.

O Lord, my strength, would You do a powerful work of Your grace deep within my heart? I do not want to displease You or dishonor You by an immature and unstable life. Lord, forgive any futile attempts to change my heart by striving before the law. Your gracious work in me is my only hope.

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Day By Day By Grace - January 26

The Initial Grace of God

"I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more"…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. (Jeremiah 31:34 and Ephesians 2:8-9)

Again, we have the opportunity to compare justifying grace and sanctifying grace, initial grace and ongoing grace. This is always an edifying and valuable exercise, since we tend to forget that we are sanctified through the same means that we are justified.

The initial grace that impacted our lives forever was the justifying, forgiving grace of God. The prophets of old proclaimed this hope. The writers of the New Testament related it to us today. "I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more" (Jeremiah 31:34; also in Hebrews 8:12). When we repented of our sins and called upon the name of the Lord, we were forgiven and justified, declared not guilty and righteous in His sight.

This saving work of God on our behalf was all accomplished by the grace of God. "For by grace you have been saved." The saving grace of God is applied to lives as they trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. "By grace you have been saved through faith."

None of this process originates in man. All of it comes from God. "And that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." No aspect of salvation derives from the efforts of man, so no one will ever be able to brag about their contribution in being saved. "Not of works, lest anyone should boast." All glory, now and forever, will go to the Lord Himself. "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 1:31).

Yes, even faith does not source in man. Jesus is "the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). When we believed upon the Lord Jesus, it was in response to an authoring, revealing work that He was doing on our behalf. Jesus manifested Himself to us through the gospel as One who was able to save us sinners. The Holy Spirit was convicting us of our need. We trusted in His saving work for us. Thereby, He authored faith in us. "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing" (Revelation 5:12).

As we have seen previously (and will have opportunity to examine again and again), the grace of God, of which we partook for new birth and justification, is the same grace that must continually be at work in us for growth and sanctification.

O Lord God of my salvation, I clearly see the full extent to which my being saved depended upon Your saving grace! Thank You for this priceless gift of grace. How glorious it is to stand justified in Your sight. Now that I might grow daily in a life of sanctification, I look to You and Your necessary grace, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - January 25

New Covenant Provided by the Blood of Christ

"This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you"…knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (Luke 22:20 and 1 Peter 1:18-19)

The well-known words from the Lord's Supper in Luke 22:20 remind us that the glorious riches of grace found in the new covenant are all provided by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, as He died on the cross for us. "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you." Customarily, we think of forgiveness of sins when we hear these words. Forgiveness is certainly included in the blessings secured by the death of our Lord. Notice, however, that Jesus did not say "this cup is forgiveness in My blood." He said, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood."

The new covenant is far more than forgiveness of sins. As previously indicated, the Scriptures reveal that the new covenant has three basic areas of blessings. First is the forgiveness of sins. "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more" (Hebrews 8:12). Second is an intimate relationship with the Lord. "All shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them" (Hebrews 8:11). Third is an internal work of God producing an increasingly godly life in and through us. "I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts" (Hebrews 8:10). The word of God further confirms that all of these grand blessings depend upon God's provision, not our performance. "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).

How can it be that such measureless spiritual abundance becomes ours through the new covenant of grace? Well, consider the amazing and effective redemption price paid to establish this new covenant. "Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold…but with the precious blood of Christ." This new covenant was not purchased with limited earthly wealth, like silver and gold. Rather, it was paid for by infinite heavenly treasure, the blood of Christ. No wonder the new covenant provides such amazing and effective resources for all who depend upon the One who died for them.

One final reflection-realizing all that the cup of the new covenant represents can turn the Lord's Supper from a "religious snack" into a "spiritual feast"!

Dear Heavenly Father, You have surely provided grace upon grace—complete forgiveness, intimate relationship, divine enablement! Yet, how could any less be supplied by such a rich price! Lord Jesus, thank You for pouring out Your life's blood to make such irreplaceable necessities available. Father, please bring to my remembrance day by day the wondrous riches of the new covenant that You want me to draw upon by faith, through Christ, my Lord, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - January 24

Other Ways to Describe New Covenant Living

"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me"…be filled with the Spirit…"I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (Luke 9:23; Ephesians 5:18; and John 10:10)

Living as servants of the new covenant is not some exclusive, elitist religious concept, available only to an initiated few. Rather, it is just one way to describe the life that is to be experienced by all who have placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. For many believers, these terms involve unfamiliar language.

Some familiar terminology that describes the same biblical reality would be "Christian discipleship." A disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ. In Luke 9:23, Jesus explained what was involved in following Him as a disciple. "Then He said to them all, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me'." In order to follow the Lord, a person must be willing to renounce the self-life, which is produced by one's own sufficiency. Then, that person must agree that such a self-produced life deserves to be judged and separated from God. Finally, everything that is needed for godly living must be found by pursuing a growing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Some other terminology that depicts the essence of new covenant living would be "the Spirit-filled life." "And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit." The Lord calls His people away from earthly influences that can dominate and diminish lives and urges us to live by the fullness of His Spirit. When Christians answer this call, they are willing to live by God's powerful, unlimited resources, instead of by man's feeble, finite means.

One other familiar phrase that comprises the same reality as life in the new covenant is "the abundant life." "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." When Jesus came into this world, His mission was not only to rescue us from the consequences of our sins but also to provide us with "abundant life," a spiritually enriched life that only He could produce in us.

New covenant living-it is the same reality as "Christian discipleship," "the Spirit-filled life," and "the abundant life."

Lord Jesus, I thank You so much for speaking of life in Christ in diverse terminologies. I want to be Your true disciple. I want to be Spirit-filled. I want to live the abundant life. Each perspective offers beautiful insights and necessary confirmations. Lord, help me also to understand and embrace the refreshing language of Your new covenant of grace. Dear Savior, I need all of the life-giving insights that Your rich vocabulary is designed to unfold!

blueletterbible.org/devotionals


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Day By Day By Grace - January 23

Living as Servants of the New Covenant

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:5-6)

We who follow the Lord Jesus Christ are "ministers of the new covenant." The term "minister" means servant. The phrase "new covenant" speaks of relating to God by grace. Thus, we are those who serve God by the resources of His grace. Our day by day lives, lived in service of the Lord God Almighty, are to be developed by the grace of God at work in us. What is involved in this biblical, heavenly approach to life here on earth?

The first issue pertains to our inadequacy. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves." So often we overlook our personal insufficiency or try to convince ourselves that we can become sufficient with just a little more time, effort, or preparation. This approach is in direct disagreement with the Lord. God wants us to agree with Him.

Even when we begin to face our spiritual inability to produce the kind of life God is looking for, we easily underestimate the extent of our deficiency. We may think that we are just not able to produce as much as God desires to see in our lives. The Lord has a more radical viewpoint. He says that we are not able to supply "anything" that He wants to see. Again, God wants us to agree with Him.

The second issue pertains to God's adequacy. "Our sufficiency is from God." The sufficient resources for living the Christian life are to be found in God alone. We are to be the recipients of God's grace, that is, His fully adequate supply. We are not to think we are the manufacturers of that grace. God is our source of all that is needed for godly living. Once more, God wants us to agree with Him.

The difference between living by God's supply or by our own resources is a "life and death" matter. "The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." Attempting to live the Christian life by our capabilities will eventually leave us exhausted, discouraged, condemned. Whereas, depending upon the Spirit of God to supply the abundant grace of God leaves us strengthened, encouraged, and comforted.

Lord God of all grace, I humbly admit that I have often held a perspective so different from Yours on this subject of sufficiency. I have repeatedly behaved as though the Christian life depended upon what I could do from my own resources. Lord, this has always resulted in spiritual deadness. Please teach me to trust in Your Holy Spirit to bring forth into my experience the full sufficiency of Your immeasurable grace, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - January 22

The New and Living Way

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 10:19-20)

Here, life under the new covenant of grace is described as the "new and living way." This could be contrasted with the "old and dying way" of attempting to live under the old covenant of law. The "newness" of grace is not really a matter of time sequence, because the grace of God actually precedes the law in man's history with God. The "tree of life" in the garden of Eden was God's provision of grace for Adam and Eve. The promises of God to Abraham (given hundreds of years before the law) depended upon the faithful grace of God, not the legal performance of Abraham.

The "newness" of grace is its everyday freshness and vitality. Day by day, by the grace of God, fresh measures of life are abundantly available to those who look to the Lord as their supply. This makes life with God fresh and new every day.

Under the old covenant, only one person, the High Priest, could enter into the intimate presence of God in the Holy of Holies. Furthermore, this was only allowed one day a year. Such limited access would certainly "get old" in the hearts of all who hungered after the living God.

Now, under the new covenant of grace, every believer in Jesus (our great High Priest) can confidently approach the Lord personally any moment of every day: "Having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus." Through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, which forgives all of our sins, we can speak to the Lord and enjoy His presence in our lives continually.

Jeremiah gave some early insight into this kind of fresh and vital relationship with God. "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 'The LORD is my portion,' says my soul, 'Therefore I hope in Him!'" (Lamentations 3:22-24).

The Apostle Paul wrote profoundly concerning such "newness." "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 7:6). This is the "new and living way." This will never "get old."

O Lord of life, my heart yearns for this new and living way. O, how I long to dwell in Your presence day by day! Lord, I confess that every attempt to base intimacy with You on my best performance has always become so old and dying, so stale and lifeless. My soul is stirred with hope in You and this better way. O Lord, teach me to walk by this new and living way, in the name of Jesus, my great High Priest, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - January 21

The New Covenant Inaugurated for the Church

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…And the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us…"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts"…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 8:6; 10:15-16, 19-20)

This new covenant of grace (promised to Israel eventually) has already been inaugurated for the church now. The book of Hebrews documents this fact repeatedly. "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." Here in chapter 8, verse 6, the new covenant is referred to as "a better covenant." Then, the instituting of this new covenant is described in the past tense, "was established." It has already been put into operation for the church.

In Hebrews 10:16, the promise of the new covenant is quoted from Jeremiah 31. "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts." In the previous verse, we are told that this quote from Jeremiah includes a message from the Holy Spirit to us, the church of Jesus Christ. "And the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us."

Furthermore, in Hebrews 10:19-20, the new covenant is applied to the access of the "brethren" (the church, God's children) to their holy God and Father. "Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us." Through His death on the cross, Jesus consecrated (that is, inaugurated, instituted, established, put into operation) the new covenant for us today!

Of course, this all fits perfectly with the application of the new covenant to the church celebrating the Lord's Supper. "In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood'" (1 Corinthians 11:25).

Dear Lord of Glory, I rejoice with great gladness that Your new covenant of grace is the wondrous manner in which I am invited to relate to You. In this rich covenant, I have found forgiveness of all my sins. Praise be to Your name! In this bountiful arrangement, I can grow in intimacy with You. Blessed be Your name! In this generous provision, I anticipate being changed and enabled by You from deep within my heart. Glory be to Your name forevermore!

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Day By Day By Grace - January 20

The Promise of a New Covenant

"Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel…I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people…they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," says the LORD. "For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." (Jeremiah 31:31, 33-34)

Long ago, God promised a new covenant of grace for His people Israel. "I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel." Some day, the Israelites will turn to Messiah as a group and enter into this promised covenant of grace. "And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: 'The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins'" (Romans 11:26-27). This will take place when the Lord Jesus returns to this earth. "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn" (Zechariah 12:10).

Meanwhile, the church of the Lord Jesus, comprised of all Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ, already has the new covenant instituted for her. "This cup is the new covenant in My blood" (Luke 22:20).

Note the astounding three-fold provisions this new covenant offers by faith to all believers today. First, there is the forgiveness of sins. "For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." Second, there is the opportunity to have an intimate relationship with God. "They all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them." Third, there is the internal working of the Lord God Almighty enabling and changing people's lives from the inner core of their being. "I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts."

Almighty God, the provisions of Your new covenant of grace are staggering in their richness! Forgiveness of sins by You, intimacy with You, and inner transformation from You—all of this is mine through faith in Your Son, my Savior. O Lord, what bountiful grace You make available to us in Christ! I fully and desperately need all three of these wondrous workings that You alone can provide. I praise You for the gift of forgiveness of sins. I seek You for increased intimacy with You. I look to You to be shaping my life according to Your will, from the inside out, all through the grace of my Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - January 19

Law and Grace, Old Covenant and New Covenant

The LORD gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant…For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ…"This cup is the new covenant in My blood." (Deuteronomy 9:11; John 1:17, and Luke 22:20)

In our meditations upon law and grace, we have also been considering (though not yet mentioning) the principal characteristics of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. When the Lord wrote the message of His law upon stone tablets for Moses, He was prescribing the terms of the Old Covenant. "The LORD gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant." When Jesus came into the world to die on the cross, the Lord was establishing the New Covenant. "This cup is the new covenant in My blood."

These two covenants of law and grace present one of the major contrasting themes in the word of God. "For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." Understanding the differences between these two covenants is of utmost importance for living the Christian life as God intends.

God's law tells us that He desires holiness to characterize the way we live. Only God's grace can provide such godliness in our lives. God's law tells us that He wants Christlike love to permeate our attitudes and relationships. Only God's grace can develop such love in us. God's law tells us that He desires the perfections of the Father to be growing in us. Only God's grace is sufficient to carry out such a process of transformation.

The law of God is the "what"; the grace of God is the "how". The law of God reveals sin; the grace of God forgives sin. The law of God indicates man's problem; the grace of God provides God's remedy. The law of God demands performance by man; the grace of God offers provision from God. The law of God is the standard; the grace of God is the means. The law of God is the spiritual measuring rod that evaluates lives; the grace of God is the nurturing resource that produces spiritual life. The law of God tells us of the character of God; the grace of God reproduces that character in us. The law of God is the effect God wants to see; the grace of God is the cause that brings forth that effect.

Lord God of truth, help me to rightly divide Your truth. Enlighten my spiritual understanding that I might increasingly grasp the differences between law and grace. Show me the full implications of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Your word impresses me with the enormous significance of these issues. Thank You for Your patience concerning my negligence or confusion on these matters. O Lord, I earnestly desire to live a righteous and holy life. Teach me the path of humble dependence upon Your glorious grace, through Jesus, my Lord and my life, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - January 18

Righteousness through Christ in Sanctification

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, 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 8:3-4)

How wonderful it is to be "justified freely by His grace" (Romans 3:24). Yet, what disappointment and discouragement awaits us, if we do not learn that God desires to sanctify us freely by His grace as well. This plan of God, as we should expect, hinges upon the work of Jesus Christ, as we depend upon Him.

In matters of justification, as well as sanctification, the law has a weakness. This weakness is that man, by natural human resources (the flesh), cannot live up to the standards of God. Thus, to accomplish what the law could never accomplish, the Father sent His Son. "For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son."

Jesus came as a man and died on the cross to eradicate the consequences of sin. This death of Christ certainly provided justification for all who would believe in the Lord Jesus. Yet, the next verse reveals that through His sacrificial death practical sanctification is available day by day through faith in the Lord. "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."

The word "walk" makes Romans 8:4 a verse on progressive sanctification, not justification. Justification takes place with the first moment of faith in Christ. Sanctification continues step by step, day by day, throughout the life of a believer.

Think of this grand truth. God's grace provides a way "that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us." Remember, the heavenly demand is "be holy," be like Christ. This transformation of life takes place daily in the life of any believer who does "not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." If we renounce the natural resources of man and trust in the Lord Jesus step by step through life, His Holy Spirit accomplishes His sanctifying work in us by the grace of God.

O Lord of compassion and generosity, what bountiful grace You offer to us; grace that justifies and grace that sanctifies. How foolish and unnecessary have been my futile attempts to fulfill the lofty requirements of Your holy law by my own feeble efforts. Father, how thrilling and encouraging to see that You have provided a gracious and effective way for me to grow in Christ-likeness. This day I place my hope for godly progress in the irreplaceable work of Your Holy Spirit in me, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - January 17

Righteousness through Christ in Justification

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:21-24)

The basic manner in which Jesus fulfills the law of God for us is by justifying us "freely by His grace." He does this by offering us "the righteousness of God through faith."

In the gospel of Jesus Christ, "the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed." It is the same righteousness that is spoken of in the law, that is, "being witnessed by the Law." In the law, righteousness is an impossible standard being imposed. In the gospel, righteousness is a gracious gift being offered.

This gift of righteousness is available to all who believe, to all who put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to be their Savior and Lord. This gift is, of course, free to the recipients. Yet, it was made available at great cost to the giver. This gift cost the Father His only begotten Son. This gift cost the Son His own life, as He paid the price of redemption to buy us back from the slave market of sin and death.

Every person ever created needs this redemption price paid for them. "For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Now, for all who believe in the Lord Jesus, the righteousness of God is imputed to them (that is, credited as a gift to their heavenly account). Thereby, the Lord God justifies us "freely by His grace." The Lord declares us righteous in His sight by giving to us "the righteousness of God which is through faith."

Dear Lord, I am so grateful that Your message of righteousness did not come through the law alone. Otherwise, Lord, I would have been condemned before You forever. Thank You for speaking to us of righteousness through Your glorious gospel of grace. I rejoice in You that I am now righteous in Your sight, through faith in Your beloved Son. Lord, I am learning that the righteousness I need for daily sanctification must also come from Jesus, by that same grace, through that same kind of trust. What good, good news is Your grand gospel! I magnify and praise You through Christ, my Lord, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - January 16

Jesus Fulfilling the Law

"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill." (Matthew 5:17)

The standard of the law of God is infinitely high and lofty: "be holy, be loving, be perfect." This is because the law reflects the very character of God. In light of this, we may wonder if there is any way that the law can be fulfilled. How could the righteous demands of the law ever be met in our lives? The answer to this vital question is contained in the truth that Jesus came "to fulfill" the law.

Consider how comprehensive was Jesus' fulfillment of the law. He fulfilled the law in His life, becoming our example. As Jesus lived, He showed us what life would look like if one could always, in every way, live up to the heavenly standards of God. Jesus' testimony was "I always do those things that please Him" (John 8:29).

Further, He fulfilled the law in His death, becoming our substitutionary sacrifice. The law included a penalty for violation, and that penalty was death. "The soul who sins shall die…For the wages of sin is death" (Ezekiel 18:4 and Romans 6:23). Jesus lovingly died in our place to pay that penalty which we owed. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

Additionally, He wants to fulfill the law now in our daily experience, by being our life: "Christ who is our life" (Colossians 3:4). The Lord Jesus wants to live in and through the lives of His disciples, as we daily put our faith in Him. "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20).

Yes, Jesus fulfills the law comprehensively!

Dear Father of Glory, what marvelous grace—what marvelous grace! Such a thorough provision is supplied by Your grace. Through the work of Jesus, my Lord, the law is fulfilled. Its holy demands are met on my behalf. My failure before Your law is fully covered by Your grace. Lord Jesus, thank You for paying the penalty for my sins. My desire to grow in the righteous life that You lived, and that the law describes, is fully available by Your grace. O Lord, this is grace upon grace. For this I praise You, and I rejoice with expectation. Lord Jesus, by faith I now look to You to be my life this day. Lord, inhabit my heart and shape my attitudes, my words, my relationships, and my deeds, I pray in Your mighty name, Amen

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Day By Day By Grace - January 15

The Law Tutoring People to Christ

Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. (Galatians 3:24-25)

The ultimate ability of the law of God is its capacity to tutor people to Christ. "The law was our tutor to bring us to Christ." It is the plan of God to use His law to inform us about our great need for Jesus Christ. Remember the summaries of the law of God: "be holy, be loving, be perfect."

The law demands that we be holy. We are convicted that we are not holy. Thereby, the law is saying to us: "You need Jesus Christ." The law requires that we be loving. We realize that we are not loving. Thereby, the law is declaring to us: "You need Jesus Christ." The law insists that we be perfect. We know that we are not perfect. Thereby, the law is announcing to us: "You need Jesus Christ." In this process the law functions as tutor (schoolmaster or child-trainer), instructing people of their need for that which only Christ can provide through His grace.

Now that we have responded to the law's tutoring work, we are no longer under the tutor. Now that we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ, we are no longer under the law. "But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor."

Whereas we once were told by the law to be holy, now we look to Christ for all personal holiness. "But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us…righteousness and sanctification" (1 Corinthians 1:30).

Whereas we once were told by the law to be loving, now we look to the Spirit of Christ for all the love that our lives are to show forth. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love" (Galatians 5:22).

Whereas we once were told by the law to be perfect, now we look to the Lord for all of the perfecting process. "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).

O Lord, my Redeemer, thank You for using Your law as a tutor to lead me to Jesus Christ. Your law was so correct regarding my desperate need of a Savior. Now I rejoice that I am no longer under that tutor. What a delight to relate to You by faith and not by performance. What a precious blessing to humbly hope in the Lord Jesus for righteousness and love and growth. How wonderful to look to a gracious, loving Person, the Lord Jesus, instead of to a perfect unyielding standard, the law. Lord Jesus, please complete in me the good work of Your grace that began when I first believed in You. In Your name, and for Your glory, I pray, Amen

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Day By Day By Grace - January 14

The Law Convicting the Rebellious

But 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…But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (1 Timothy 1:8-9 and Galatians 5:18)

Although the law has some God-given inabilities, it is nevertheless good. "Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good" (Romans 7:12). It does have certain abilities, "if one uses it lawfully." One unlawful application of the law would be using it to obtain justification (a declaration of being righteous in God's sight). If anyone ever infers that attempted obedience to the law of God could potentially secure an overall verdict of "not guilty," that would be biblically forbidden.

Another unlawful application of God's law would be using it to obtain sanctification (progressive spiritual growth in the Lord). If a person imagines that they could grow in godliness by their best attempts at living up to the law, that, too, would be prohibited by God's word.

The law is "for the lawless and insubordinate." The law of God is for those who are rebellious at heart against the will and the ways of God. This truth, in its basic interpretation, is directed toward unbelievers, "for the ungodly and for sinners." Herein we see that the law of God is able to convict unbelieving rebels of their defiance against a holy God.

However, by implication, there is an insight for believers here as well. As far as God is concerned, we are "not under law but under grace" (Romans 6:14). Yet, only those who walk according to the Spirit fully enjoy the daily blessings of that reality. "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law." When followers of the Lord Jesus walk according to the flesh, they practically place themselves under a performance code. They put themselves under the law for practical day by day living. The message of the law, which is for the rebellious, also has the capacity to expose this unacceptable condition within the life of a self-sufficient believer.

Dear God of all Grace, I confess that I formerly lived in lawless rebellion against You. Lord, Your Holy Spirit convicted me of my self-righteous defiance against Your holy law. By Your grace You justified me, as I cried out in faith to Your Son. Lord, now I earnestly ask You to convict me of those times when I attempt to live by the self-righteous resources of my own flesh. Lord, I need to be sanctified daily by Your grace, even as You previously justified me by Your grace. I praise You that such a work is abundantly available through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - January 13

The Law Producing Accountability for Sin

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…For by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:19-20)

God's law speaks to those who are under the law. This would certainly include the Jews, for the law of God was given to them in writing (first engraved on stones by God, then written on parchment in the Holy Scriptures). Yet, the law speaks to the Gentiles as well, since they have it inscribed upon their consciences. " [The Gentiles] show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness" (Romans 2:15). Thus, every Jew and every Gentile begins life under the law.

Remember, when the law speaks, it is saying, "be holy, be loving, be perfect." The result of all people having received this message (either externally in writing, or internally upon the conscience) is that "every mouth [is] stopped."

What would we say if we stood before God, and He evaluated our lives by His law? How could we answer if God said, "Here is your life; here is My law; now, give an account of yourself." Our "mouths [would be] stopped." We could provide no excuse, explanation, or justification.

The law produces accountability to God. And this accountability is universal. "All the world (is) guilty before God." There are no exceptions. Everyone in all the world is included. The law of God reveals to all humanity what sin really is.

Sin is not a cultural phenomenon. It is a divine revelation of what is absolutely unacceptable before God in light of His holy character. "By the law is the knowledge of sin." Man would have no insight into this matter were it not for the law of God. "I would not have known sin except through the law" (Romans 7:7a). Murder, adultery, stealing, lying, coveting, etc. are all revealed to mankind by God's law. "For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, 'You shall not covet'" (Romans 7:7b). Through God's law we are all accountable to Him for our sins.

O Lord God of holiness and love and all that is perfect, Your holy law has stopped my mouth. I have no excuse for my spiritual failure before Your perfect standard. What I have read in Your word confirms the convictions of my heart. My life would stand forever guilty in Your sight, if it were not for Your forgiving, justifying grace. Thank You for providing forgiveness of my sins and justifying me, when I could offer no justifying words or deeds of my own. As I look at the world of humanity all around me, please remind me that they are guilty before You, until they come to Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

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Day By Day By Grace - January 12

The General Ability of the Law

Then the LORD delivered to me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words which the LORD had spoken…"You have heard that it was said…But I say to you." (Deuteronomy 9:10 and Matthew 5:27-28)

Although the law of God is unable to justify or sanctify, it does have some strategic ability in God's plan for man. These verses from the Torah (Hebrew for law) and the Sermon on the Mount help us reflect upon this matter. These two profound sections of the Bible pertain to the law of God. Torah refers to the books of Genesis through Deuteronomy. These books give an extensive explanation of the message of God's law. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) includes Jesus' clarification of man's understanding of the law.

When these portions of the Bible are read, studied, or taught, the general ability of the law is at work. In these passages the very character and will of God are revealed. The message related to those "two tablets of stone" spoke of God's character, "I the Lord, your God, am holy." The summary of this message expressed God's will for man, "be holy." The details of the message indicated what holiness would be like in conduct toward God and in relationships with others. Jesus' words would eventually extend this message of holiness even into attitudes of the heart.

The law of God is His standard for spiritual measurement. By His law, God measures holiness in people's lives by revealing His will, which is based upon His holy character. This is why all of us "fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). We don't measure up to God's holy standard.

The measuring instruments of man are a helpful illustration of the law. When a tape measure is used to evaluate the height of people, it measures growth or reveals the absence of it. It does not produce human growth. So it is with the law of God. The law describes and measures what God wants lives to look like. It does not cause such spiritual growth to appear. Only God's grace at work in our lives is the sufficient dynamic that produces spiritual growth.

O Lord, my hope, I give You praise for Your holy character, revealed in Your holy law. I agree with Your will, desiring holiness in my life. I also agree with You that I have fallen far short of Your glorious standard. Thank You for cleansing me of all unrighteousness. Thank You for clothing me in the righteousness of Your dear Son. Now I place my hope in You for any and all progress in the path of righteousness. O Lord, have Your way in my life, working Your will, by Your grace, through Jesus Christ my Lord, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - January 11

The Inability of the Law to Sanctify

This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? (Galatians 3:2-3)

The first question here in Galatians 3 again brings to mind issues of justification. "Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" We received the Holy Spirit of God to dwell in our lives when we were born again, when we became children of God. This is also when the Lord declared us justified, righteous in His sight.

How did the Spirit come to indwell us? Was it by our performance, attempting to live up to the law of God? No, it was "by the hearing of faith." We heard the good news that Christ died for our sins. We heard the truth that Jesus could forgive us of our unrighteousness. Faith was stirred in our hearts as we considered that grand message. In simple, humble faith, we asked the Lord Jesus to come into our lives, to be our personal Savior. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12).

The next two questions in our text apply this same biblical reasoning to sanctification. "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" To think that we can advance the process of sanctification (that is, progressive transformation unto Christlikeness) by our own human resources (that is, by the flesh) is foolishness.

What a staggering thought! Just as we could never secure justification by our own best efforts, so it is true that we can never increase personal sanctification by our own best efforts. Yes, "The just shall live by faith," initially and continually!

Dear Lord, I praise Your holy name for justifying me by faith in Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. I am so grateful that such a blessing did not depend upon my personal ability or merit. My heart is both convicted and encouraged that sanctification is by faith as well. I am convicted, because I have often thought and acted as though I could effect more practical righteousness by my own resources. I am encouraged that there is a way that actually works, and it depends upon trusting in You. O Lord, please remind me of this glorious, gracious provision day by day, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - January 10

The Inability of the Law to Justify

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ…But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "The just shall live by faith." (Galatians 2:16 and 3:11)

Our great initial need before God is to be justified, to have God Himself declare us not guilty, to have the Lord pronounce us righteous in His sight. At first glance this appears to be an impossible situation for man. God, our Judge, is holy by His nature. Man (because of sin) is unholy by nature. "But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6).

The consequences of such ungodliness are inevitably universal and appropriately severe. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 3:23 and 6:23a). The just sentence for all of humanity, in light of their sins against a pure, holy, and eternal God, is death (everlasting separation from God).

The law of God offers no help and provides no hope of remedying this dire situation. People are "not justified by the works of the law." Trying one's best to measure up to the law never produces a verdict of not guilty. In all of history, Jesus was the only one who could be evaluated by God's law and receive a declaration of living righteously. Jesus was "in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). No other person could ever perform sufficiently before God's law to achieve a declaration of righteousness. "No one is justified by the law in the sight of God."

Vows and pledges of personal improvement offer no hope. Asking others how to strive more earnestly provides no assistance. Only faith supplies the necessary remedy. "A man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ." Trusting in our own best efforts leaves us guilty before God. Trusting in Christ's perfect work on the cross makes us justified before God. "The just shall live by faith."

O Lord, my God, I praise You for Your glorious grace poured out upon me in justification. By Your grace alone You have declared me righteous in Your sight. I was totally guilty before Your holy law. I had no excuses and no hope of rescuing myself. Your law rightly condemned me, and I never could have reversed that verdict by my own performance. I trusted in Your Son, and You pronounced me righteous before You. To You, my Lord, I give all honor, glory, adoration, and thanksgiving, through Christ Jesus, my Savior, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - January 9

The Inability of the Law

For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. (Hebrews 7:18-19)

God's word reveals that His law has a strategic inability. There is an arena in which the law has a "weakness and unprofitableness." The law demands perfection, but it offers no perfecting resources. "The law made nothing perfect." This inability is certainly not due to any oversight on God's part. Rather, this inability is related to that which God never intended for His law to accomplish.

The law of God was not given as a means for perfecting people (that is, of providing spiritual change). God's law was not designed to be a tool by which man could improve his spiritual condition in the sight of God. The law tells us what God wants to see in lives, but the law provides no resource to effect the necessary changes. Thus, attempting to begin or to develop a relationship with God by dependence upon our best performance will always be a hopeless venture.

Anyone who desires to approach a holy and perfect God must have a more effective expectation than one's best personal performance, measured by God's holy law. Anyone who wants to get to know God, to walk with Him, to live with Him through time and eternity, must find a better hope than the law of God.

The law of God cannot give us an initial standing before God, that is, it cannot justify us. It cannot bring us a declaration of "not guilty" in His sight. The law is also unable to develop an ongoing walk of godliness before the Lord, that is, it cannot sanctify us. It cannot transform our lives day by day into the image of Christ. For either of these precious blessings of God, a "better hope" is needed. God's grace is the "better hope" that allows us to "draw near to God," initially in new birth and continually in a maturing intimacy.

Holy Father, You are perfect in character. Your law is perfect in standard. Your law rightly demands perfection of me. Father, I ask that You remind me often that I cannot live up to that divine requirement on my own resources. Bring to my remembrance this inability of Your law. Stir my heart to trust in that better hope. Lord, I desire to walk closely with You. Thus, I trust in Your grace as the only sufficient hope that will allow me to draw near to You, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - January 8

Not Hearing the Law

Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? (Galatians 4:21)

When people do not really hear what the law of God is saying, they may still desire to be under the law. Those who are lost and dying in the world often underestimate the message of the law. They may imagine that it is only calling them to attend religious services or to join a religious organization. In missing the message of the law, they choose to remain under it, trusting in their own best behavior to pass any final judgment concerning heaven or hell. This is a matter of "not hearing the law."

Many who are redeemed to new life in Christ, also want to remain under the law for spiritual growth and service. This is another case of "not hearing the law." Any believer who expects to please the Lord on the basis of "best efforts" does not really hear what the law speaks as God's will.

The law of God is not suggesting that we "be better." It is demanding that we "be holy," as holy as God. The law is not implying that we "be nicer." It is requiring that we "be loving," as loving as Christ. The law is not proposing that we "try harder." It is insisting that we "be perfect," as perfect as our Father in heaven.

The law of God is not asking us to improve ourselves or to be better than the next person. Many times this inaccurate statement is heard: "Just do the best that you can; what more could God require?" Well, God is demanding far beyond our human best. "Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?" (Galatians 4:21). God's law is demanding that lives "be holy," "be loving," and "be perfect." Moreover, He Himself is the standard of this holiness, love, and perfection.

Dear Lord God, You are holy and loving and perfect. In and of myself, I am none of these. I stand before You without any human resources that could measure up to these heavenly realities that You alone possess. I thank You for Your mercy. I praise You for Your grace. I humbly bow before You, asking that You work more and more of Your holiness in and through my life. With no other hope than You, I ask that more of Your love might fill my life. Admitting my complete inadequacy, I ask You to transform me more and more into Your perfect image. Through Christ I pray, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - January 7

One More Summary Message of the Law: Be Perfect

"Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus provides a startling summary of the law of God: "be perfect." Our Lord had just been teaching about God's law. His instruction provided a much deeper understanding of the law than the teachers of Jesus' day had grasped. He showed how the law goes far beyond external behavior alone.

The format Jesus used was "You have heard that it was said…But I say to you." In Matthew 5:27-28, He addressed the commandment on adultery in this fashion. "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." When lustful imaginations are entertained in our thoughts, adultery has already occurred, as far as God is concerned.

In verses 21-22 Jesus used this same pattern of instruction to reveal God's perspective on murder: "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder,' and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment." When vengeful anger floods our thoughts, this is harboring a murderous spirit within the heart. Actual murder and vindictive anger both deserve the same judgment. Clearly, God's commandments can be transgressed by the unseen attitudes of the heart, as well as by the visible actions of the body.

Again, Jesus summarized such teaching on the law by saying: "be perfect." In the law, God requires a perfection that measures up to the perfect character of Himself. The law is saying that we are to hold within our hearts and manifest through our actions a character that matches God's. "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect."

Dear Heavenly Father, these words are so humbling and convicting. You are so perfect in every way. I am so imperfect in every area. Lord, even actions that I think are acceptable in Your sight can be polluted by unacceptable attitudes that fall far short of the standard of Your perfections. Thus, I cast myself upon Your mercy and grace, looking to You for the only remedies that will ever suffice, even Your forgiveness and Your transforming power, through Christ my Lord and Savior, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - January 6

Another Summary Message of the Law: Be Loving

Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:36-40)

In His response to the question, Jesus supplies another summary of the message of God's law: be loving. "Love the Lord your God…love your neighbor." Jesus then revealed that "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." Every command in the law of God is related to one of these two commandments.

"Love the Lord your God." The primary demand of the law is an all-out love relationship with the Lord God Almighty. God is to be loved "with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." From the depths of our being, love is to be flowing out toward the Lord. In every expression of our personality, love is to be poured out toward God. In every thought of our minds, love for God is to be the motivation and the content. Any aspect of life that does not indicate a comprehensive, unrestricted love toward God is in violation of His law.

"Love your neighbor." The secondary demand of God's law is an unselfish love toward every other person. We are to love others "as ourselves." Some have wrongly used this phrase to urge obedience to an imaginary third commandment: "We need to learn to love ourselves"?! No, Jesus said there are only two commandments here. This second one is a call to give others the consideration and care that we all have given to ourselves throughout our lives. Jesus later intensified this second command by saying, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you…" (John 13:34).

The message of God's law is: be loving. Love God fully. Love others sacrificially.

Dear Lord God, I bow before You as the God of infinite love. I have come to love You, because You first loved me. Yet, my love for You is so feeble in light of what You deserve and what You command. O Lord, my love for others is so often diminished by my own selfishness. I humbly ask that You would work in me a more profound love for You and a more selfless love for others, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - January 5

One Summary Message of the Law: Be Holy

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: 'You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and keep My Sabbaths: I am the Lord your God. Do not turn to idols, nor make for yourselves molded gods: I am the LORD your God.'" (Leviticus 19:1-4)

What is the overall message of God's law? How could a person summarize the law of God? In this statement to Moses, the Lord mentions a few of the commandments from His holy law. He speaks of proper treatment of parents. He calls for a weekly day of rest. He prohibits the worship of idols. Then, He provides a two-word summary of His law: "be holy."

In this call to holiness, the Lord holds forth Himself as the reason for, and standard of, living holy lives. "You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy." God is holy, so He requires holiness to be a distinctive trait of His people.

What is the holiness of God? It has to do with His character. Holiness speaks of that which is innate with God. It is inherent or intrinsic to His character. Also, it contrasts that which is foreign to His being. In the Lord God there is perfect righteousness, and in Him no unrighteousness dwells. Complete moral purity abides in God. Conversely, in Him there is not even a trace of moral evil. In fact, everything about Him is spiritually pure and morally unpolluted.

This holy character of the Lord God is the standard that the law holds forth for humanity. God's chosen nation, Israel, was given this standard in writing. All others have this standard written on the conscience. "(Gentiles) show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness" (Romans 2:15). All who are born into this world are measured by God's law, which demands that the holy character of God be seen in their lives before God. This includes how they relate to God and to one another. The message of the law is: "be holy."

O Holy Father, I worship You for Your perfect holiness. None is holy, O Lord, besides You. You are pure and righteous in all of Your being and all of Your doing. Father, I am aware of, and convicted of, my lack of inborn holiness. I confess that I could never produce a life that would measure up to Your holy standards. I thank You for the gracious forgiveness that is available in Your Son, Jesus Christ. I take comfort in, and find hope in, the righteousness that Your Son can bring to those who trust in Him day by day!

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Day By Day By Grace - January 4

Under Grace, Not Law

For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:14)

Sin dominates all of our lives, unless we are learning of God's solution. Grace is God's sufficient remedy that sin will no longer dominate our lives.

Before we came to faith in Jesus Christ, we were under the dominion of sin. We were condemned before God because of our sin. Others may not have been aware of our truly sinful condition. Still, we were so controlled by sin that God called us "slaves of sin" (Romans 6:6).

The law brought us no hope of escape. In fact, the law condemned us. "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). We could never have found freedom from sin's condemnation by attempting to perform better under the law of God. "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ…for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified" (Galatians 2:16).

On the other hand, the grace of God is our effective hope. There is forgiveness of sins by His grace: "The forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7). There is justification through faith by the grace of God. "Even 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). There is growth in spiritual life by the grace of God. "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). None of these heavenly blessings become ours through our ability to live up to the holy standards of God's law.

Our relationship with the Lord is based upon grace, not upon law. We began a walk with the Lord by His grace at work for us. We continue walking with Him by His grace working in our lives.

O Lord, my God, I rejoice greatly that I am under Your grace and not under Your law. Your holy law rightly condemned me for my trespasses against You. I thank You for forgiving my sins by Your glorious grace. I praise You for justifying me, declaring me not guilty in Your sight, by Your rich grace. I magnify You for continuing to touch and shape my life by Your inexhaustible grace, in the name of Christ Jesus, my Lord, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - January 3

The Magnitude of God's Grace

In Him we have our redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace…that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus…To me, who am less than the least of all saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable [unfathomable] riches of Christ. (Ephesians 1:7; 2:7; 3:8)

What is the magnitude of God's grace? How extensive are His resources of grace? So often we drastically underestimate God's supply of grace for us.

God is rich in grace. When He forgave our sins, He did so "according to the riches of His grace." Think of the bountiful measure of grace that was bestowed on us to remove our guilt and shame. God generously poured out His grace and washed away our iniquities. Yet, in doing this He did not deplete the treasures of His grace.

In Ephesians 2:7, God speaks of the "exceeding riches of His grace." The Lord's grace is far beyond any richness that we have ever yet comprehended or experienced. God's storehouse of grace is so abundant that He will continue pouring it upon us for the "ages to come." Yes, it will take eternity for the Lord to fully demonstrate His grace toward us. This everlasting demonstration involves showing His kindness toward all who are in Christ Jesus. Think of it-from the boundless resources of God's grace He can make us the objects of His kindness for ever and ever!

One could liken the riches of God's grace to an infinitely vast ocean. Think of the immensity of the oceans of the world. Although they are magnificent in scope, every ocean can be searched out or fathomed. Every ocean has a bottom that can be reached. Though vast, they are finite. But not so with God's grace. Paul testified that the Lord gave him grace to go forth and proclaim the "unsearchable [unfathomable] riches of Christ."

For us, there is more grace available in the heart of God than there is water in all of the oceans of the world! Truly, no matter how much grace we have already discovered in Christ, we have only begun our search.

Heavenly Father, I am awestruck at the magnitude of Your grace. Forgive me for underestimating that grace so often. Enlighten the eyes of my heart that I might know the richness of Your grace. May the immeasurable ocean of Your grace supply my daily need, through Jesus Christ my Lord, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - January 2

Grace Upon Grace in Our Lives

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father; full of grace and truth…And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for [upon] grace. (John 1:14, 16)

The grace of God is found in a person, Jesus Christ. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 8:9). Through His Son, the Father now proclaims His full message. "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son" (Hebrews 1:1-2). One of Jesus' titles is the Word. When He became a man, He was God's incarnate message, His Word to humanity. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." As the early disciples watched Jesus living His perfect life of godliness, they were looking at the glorious revelation of God's uniquely begotten (that is, virgin-born) Son. "And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father." His life was an overflowing demonstration of divine grace and truth: "full of grace and truth."

Jesus showed us the kind of life that God's grace could develop in us-a life of truth, a life of godly reality. Jesus came as the One to offer that fullness of grace to all who would trust in Him. Now for those who depend upon Him day by day, life is explained and developed "grace upon grace." God's grace first establishes a layer of forgiveness and spiritual new birth. Then, layers of growth, transformation, fruitfulness, victory, maturing, service, etc. are added as His grace is received by faith.

Oh, what fullness is available to us in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ! "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him" (Colossians 2:9-10). Our wholeness of life comes from His fullness. Wherever we are in our spiritual pilgrimage, progress has come through receiving by faith from the fullness of His grace. Whatever remains to be accomplished must transpire in the same manner, receiving more fully of His fullness. Yes, daily Christian living is to be "grace upon grace"-upon grace, upon grace, upon grace-until we stand face to face someday with our Lord of grace!

Lord Jesus, thank You for coming to dwell among humanity. I worship You for the fullness of grace available in You. I appreciate so much the layers of Your grace that You have built into my life. I reach out to You with expectation for the grace needed in the days ahead. This I ask in Your holy name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - January 1

The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)

God wants us to know His grace. He wants us to learn about it, and then experience it at work in our lives. Grace has rightly been described as "unmerited favor." The acronym, "God's Riches At Christ's Expense" catches more of its majesty. Grace is God freely providing for us (as we trust in the work of His Son) all that we will ever need, all that we will ever yearn for, all that He has commanded us to walk in and become-realities that we could never produce on our own, could never earn, and could never deserve. Grace offers what every human desperately needs, but what God alone can provide.

This grace is found only in a person, the Lord Jesus. It is the "grace of our Lord Jesus Christ." Thus, it is accessible only through an ongoing personal relationship with Him.

Grace was made available to us by Jesus' willingness to take our spiritual bankruptcy upon Himself, that we might partake of His spiritual richness. Before coming to earth below, Jesus enjoyed heavenly riches above ("that though He was rich"). He knew the infinitely rich fellowship of the Father and the Spirit. He received the rich worship of angelic beings. He enjoyed the limitless rights and privileges of deity.

Then, for our benefit, Jesus voluntarily became poor ("for your sakes He became poor"). He humbled Himself to walk as a man among sinful humanity. He who was adored above became despised below. He who shined forth in glorious divinity in heaven was clothed in humble humanity on earth. He who created all things was slain by those He created. He who existed in eternity past died in time. He who was holy took our sin upon Himself.

Through these workings of His grace, all who believed in Him would become spiritually rich ("that you through His poverty might become rich"). Now, we whose "righteousnesses were as filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6) have become "the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). We "who once were not a people…are now the people of God" (1 Peter 2:10). Now, we have been "blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3).

Dear Lord, I thank You and praise You for Your great grace toward me. May I increasingly know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ through a growing relationship with Him. May I become an instrument of Your grace in the lives of others, all for Your glory and honor, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - December 31

The Manifold Grace of God

The manifold grace of God…but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (1 Peter 4:10; 2 Peter 3:18; and Galatians 6:18)

The manifold grace of God is such an appropriate truth for our concluding meditation. It is both humbling and faith-building to be reminded of the majestic diversity of God's grace.

God's grace is manifold. It is like a heavenly diamond with innumerable facets. Every vantage point reflects a new insight into the gracious resources of our Lord. From some biblical viewpoints, the justifying grace of God is seen: "justified freely by His grace" (Romans 3:24). Yet, our devotional studies have concentrated upon sanctifying grace, grace for growing. "But grow in…grace." Many scriptural vistas display this sanctifying grace in its manifold beauty. It can be seen stabilizing the inner man. "It is good that the heart be established by grace" (Hebrews 13:9). It can also be seen in its edifying ability. "I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up" (Acts 20:32). From another angle, God's sanctifying grace can be seen for its strengthening capacity. "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 2:1). It can also be observed in its fruit-producing role: "and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth" (Colossians 1:6). It can also be seen in its ministry-developing function. "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Corinthians 15:10). From still another viewpoint, the sanctifying grace of God can be seen sustaining through the agonies of one's "thorny impossibilities." "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Corinthians 12:9). What heavenly riches await us in a lifetime of observing, and appropriating, God's manifold grace.

What final words would be fitting for us now? The closing benediction in so many New Testament epistles would be perfectly suitable. "Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit" (Galatians 6:18). Ultimately and essentially, grace is found in the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and it is experienced through His work in our hearts, as we humbly seek to know Him more and more. "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Dear Lord of manifold grace, I earnestly yearn to grow in every aspect of Your grace. Lord Jesus, I humbly desire to find increasing intimacy with You. Please work Your grace deeply into my heart and manifest it fully through my life, in Your matchless name, I pray, Amen.

blueletterbible.org/devotionals



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Day By Day By Grace - December 30

More on Walking with Jesus the Way We Received Him

As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7)

The manner in which we received the Lord is the very same manner in which we are to walk in Him. "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." We received Him by grace, we must walk by grace. We were born again by the Spirit, we must walk by the Spirit. Furthermore, when we first received Christ, He was our only hope. Now, we are to walk with Him the same way.

It is good to recall how Jesus was the focus at the beginning of our walk with Him. When we received Him and His forgiveness, we knew He had to provide all that was needed for our salvation. We agreed with the word of God that there was no other hope than Jesus. "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me'… Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (John 14:6 and Acts 4:12). We knew that we could supply nothing ourselves. We were spiritually dead, having no righteousness at all: "dead in trespasses and sins…all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags" (Ephesians 2:1 and Isaiah 64:6). We had entered the blessed condition of being convicted of our own spiritual bankruptcy. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3). Jesus was our comprehensive focus, our only hope.

This is how we are to walk in Him today. We need the Lord Jesus as much now for living the Christian life as we needed Him at the beginning to be born again into it. For growth and victory and fruitfulness, He is the one upon whom we must focus. "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving." We need to be rooted in Him, reaching out by faith to Him for nutrition and strength, even as the roots of a tree reach into the soil. We need to be built up in Him, having our lives developed by His work in us. We need to be established in the faith, allowing Him to stabilize us through the study of His word. This will lead us to overflowing appreciation and gratitude that "Christ is all and in all" (Colossians 3:11). Truly, we need the Lord Jesus as much now for living the Christian life as we needed Him at the beginning to be born again into it.

Lord Jesus, my all in all, You were my only hope for beginning a new life with You. Today, You are my only hope for growing in this life with You. Please remind me that my need for You never diminishes. It is constant and comprehensive. Thank You for always being available!

blueletterbible.org/devotionals


"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - December 29

Walking with Jesus the Way We Received Him

As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him…Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? (Colossians 2:6 and Galatians 3:3)

In this vital matter of relating rightly to the Lord, one common mistake is attempting to develop our Christian walk in a different manner than we began it. Our present verses point us to the proper outlook. We are to build our life with the Lord upon the very same terms that we began that life. "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." We are to walk with Jesus the way we received Him.

We received the Lord and His great salvation as gifts of grace. "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!…For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God" (2 Corinthians 9:15 and Ephesians 2:8). We must, therefore, walk in Him with a "grace-receiving" mentality. "And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for [upon] grace" (John 1:16). We must never attempt to treat the Christian life as something we can manufacture or earn. Sinful, earthly fathers were created with a desire to give beneficial gifts to their children. Even more so, our holy, heavenly Father has a heart to give all that is needed to those who are willing to ask and receive. "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:11).

Galatians 3:3 reinforces the need to have the same pattern for beginning and developing a walk with God. "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" These rhetorical questions warn of the deadly danger of having our approach to Christian growth differ from how we found spiritual birth. The Holy Spirit alone was able to bring us spiritual birth. The flesh of man could avail nothing. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6). The Holy Spirit must bring us spiritual progress. The flesh can contribute nothing. "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing" (John 6:63). Any change in approach from birth to growth is foolishness. It is doomed to failure.

We began by grace, so we must continue by grace. We began by the Spirit, so we must continue by the Spirit. Yes, we are to walk with Jesus the way we received Him. Any changes in approach are unacceptable, ineffective, impossible.

Heavenly Father, You are such a generous giver. You gave me Your Son and His salvation as a gift of grace. You gave me new life by a work of Your Holy Spirit. Now, I want to walk in Christ these same ways, in His gracious name, Amen.

blueletterbible.org/devotionals


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Day By Day By Grace - December 28

More on an Invitation to Pray at the Throne of Grace

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Seated upon the throne which rules this universe is the sovereign, holy Judge of all humanity. Yet, He is also the "God of all grace" (1 Peter 5:10). All who relate rightly to Him (through humble faith in Jesus Christ) can come boldly to that throne, praying with assurance that mercy and grace will be His response.

Truly, the Lord Jesus is the reason that we can answer the invitation to "come boldly to the throne of grace." His death on the cross opened the way for us to come into God's presence, allowing us to talk to Him directly in prayer. It is as though the Holy of Holies is now our family den. God is our Father, who delights to commune with His children as we pray to Him: "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 10:19-20). This "new and living way" is the new covenant of grace. It is by the Lord's grace alone that we can come to His throne of grace, that we might live daily by His grace.

At this inviting throne of God, we "obtain mercy." Mercy is heaven's wondrous companion to grace. Mercy is God's provision for holding back from us the awful things that we actually deserve, due to our sin and rebellion. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon" (Isaiah 55:7). Now, each day, His children can benefit from the faithful mercies of God. "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Also, at this inviting throne of God, we "find grace to help in time of need." Our initial need was for the Lord's saving grace, which brought forgiveness for our ungodliness and made heaven our eternal home. "For by grace you have been saved through faith" (Ephesians 2:8). Our ongoing need would be for transforming grace for developing a godly life here on earth. "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). In prayer at the throne of grace, we find God's continuing supply of grace. That grace is irreplaceable and sufficient to sustain us through, and use us in, the needy situations we encounter daily at home, work, school, church-wherever.

O Lord, supplier of all mercy and grace, I rejoice that Your mercies are new every day. Have mercy on me, dear Lord! I praise You that Your all-encompassing grace is available through humble, trusting prayer. Pour Your grace out on me, dear Lord!

blueletterbible.org/devotionals

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Day By Day By Grace - December 27

An Invitation to Pray at the Throne of Grace

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

If we are going to live by grace, we must relate rightly to the God of all grace: namely, by walking in humble dependence. Continual, Spirit-led prayer is the basic way to express humility and faith to the Lord. How fitting it is, then, to consider God's invitation to pray at the throne of grace.

The throne to which we are invited is the throne of God, revealed to the Apostle John. "Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne" (Revelation 4:2). This honored King of the universe is the Creator of everything, exercising His sovereign will by His infinite power. "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created" (Revelation 4:11). This is a throne of everlasting holiness, as declared constantly by angelic creatures. "And they do not rest day or night, saying: 'Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!'" (Revelation 4:8). For the godless, this will become a throne of judgment. "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 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" (Revelation 20:11-13, 15).

If this throne were only characterized by sovereign power, holiness, and judgment, we could never approach it with any expectation of blessing. Yet, for those who will humbly receive eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, this is a throne of grace. "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace." We can approach this throne with spiritual confidence, because Jesus is seated there with the Father. "And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne…stood a Lamb as though it had been slain…Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!" (Revelation 5:6, 12). The worthy one, who died for our sins, has opened the door to an intimate relationship with our heavenly Father. "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father'" (Romans 8:15). Dread of God is replaced with boldness, by the grace of Jesus Christ: "in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him" (Ephesians 3:12). Now, this throne is to us an altar of prayer for mercy and grace!

Abba, Father, I bow before Your throne, acknowledging You as the sovereign Creator and the holy Judge. Yet, I boldly approach You as my dear, intimate Papa! Although I deserved judgment, now through Jesus, I humbly expect mercy and grace!

blueletterbible.org/devotionals


"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - December 26

More on a Biblical Example of Spirit-led Praying

We…do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will…being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. (Colossians 1:9-10b, 12)

In our previous meditation, we began to examine a classic illustration of Spirit-led praying. The basic request of this majestic prayer was to learn about, and walk in, the will of God. We "do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him." Now we look at other issues in this biblical example of Spirit-led praying.

A significant aspect of the will of God involves fruitful laboring unto the Lord: "being fruitful in every good work." The abounding grace of God is able to produce abundant ministry in our lives. "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, have an abundance for every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:8).

The very core of God's will is next: "increasing in the knowledge of God." Getting to know the Lord is the supreme issue of life. "I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippians 3:8). The corollary prayer in Ephesians has this as its fundamental request: "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him" (Ephesians 1:17). A key verse for our grace devotionals suggests the connection between God's grace and knowing Him. "Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18).

Another vital part of God's will for us is spiritual empowerment: "strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power." With the Lord of grace Himself as our strength, there is no limit to what we can do. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). Yet, such divine power is often imparted for reasons other than we might imagine: "for all patience and longsuffering with joy."

The final aspect of God's will mentioned is gratitude: "giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light." Since all of these riches are God's grace available through humble, trusting prayer, no wonder that the Lord concludes with a reminder about grateful hearts.

Heavenly Father, I have a deep desire to be fruitful in service unto You. I have a strong yearning to know You more and more. I have a desperate need to be strengthened by You. I am overflowing with gratitude toward You. In humble faith, I cry out to You!

blueletterbible.org/devotionals


"To God be the glory!!"


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MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!!

Day By Day By Grace - December 25

A Biblical Example of Spirit-led Praying

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him. (Colossians 1:9-10a)

As we have seen, the Lord calls us in various ways to pray without ceasing. We are to engage every issue of life every day in every way through Spirit-led prayer: "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:18). In addition to this extensive call to prayer, the word of God also gives us heavenly insight concerning the general content of our prayers. Our next two meditations reflect this by offering a biblical example of Spirit-led praying.

The Apostle Paul prayed consistently for the believers at Colosse. "We…do not cease to pray for you." God's will was the primary issue about which the Holy Spirit impressed Paul to pray: "to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will." Such praying will ultimately lead people into the word of God, where the will of God is revealed. "This is the will of God, your sanctification…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 4:3; 5:18). Truly understanding God's will requires heavenly insight: "in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." Of course, this is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. "When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13).

The Lord does not inform us of His will merely for our curiosity. Knowing God's will is to lead to living God's will: "that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him." Our Lord desires that we walk in a manner appropriate for identifying with Him and His great gospel of grace. "Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Philippians 1:27). He wants us to be interested in what pleases Him, not what pleases self or the world: "proving what is acceptable [well-pleasing] to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:10). The Lord wants to work in us the heart seen in David's Messianic confession. "I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart" (Psalm 40:8). Bringing the will of God into the heart of man is what the new covenant of grace accomplishes. "I will make a new covenant …I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts…who also made us sufficient as ministers [servants] of the new covenant" (Jeremiah 31:31, 33 and 2 Corinthians 3:6). Living in prayerful dependence upon the grace of God will make us true "servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart" (Ephesians 6:6).

Dear Lord, I want to be fully controlled by Your will, pleasing You in every way. From Your word, grant me Holy Spirit insight into Your will. Teach me to pray in this Spirit-led manner, that Your grace might lead me to do Your will from deep within my heart.

blueletterbible.org/devotionals

"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - December 24

Another Call to Pray without Ceasing

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18)

Through His word, God calls us to lives of continual prayerfulness. "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Jesus also calls us to this life of prayer, both by His teaching and His example. "Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart…in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed" (Luke 18:1 and Mark 1:35). Our present verse is another call to praying without ceasing.

The context directs us to appropriate, by faith, the powerful spiritual resources that are ours in the Lord. "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:10-11). These heavenly provisions are put on by looking to the Lord unceasingly in prayer: "praying always." This constancy in prayer can be done with "all prayer and supplication." God has arranged many appropriate ways for us to pray, such as confession, repentance, request, thanksgiving, rejoicing, praise, adoration, and more. Note, however, that every type of praying is to be done "in the Spirit." As in all areas of life, we must depend upon the Spirit. He will grant us guidance and wisdom for praying according to the will of God.

Godly praying also includes spiritual alertness: "being watchful to this end." When prayer is especially needed, we can be tempted to slumber. In Gethsemane, the disciples were not alert to the great need to pray. "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation" (Mark 14:38). Again, this highlights our need to be led of the Spirit. Further, a part of our need for the Spirit pertains to perseverance: "with all perseverance." Praying requires all kinds of spiritual persistence. Praying requires demanding spiritual labor. The Holy Spirit must sustain us in God's strength, if we are to engage in prayer to the extent that our Lord often desires. Some of this call to persevering prayer involves the battles and needs that others are facing: "with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints." It is not wrong for us to cry out to God concerning our own needs. Our Lord invites us to do such. "Let your requests be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6). Still, the Lord wants to use us in the lives of people near and far through the wonderful avenue of intercession. The vision for prayer given here is quite expansive: "Praying always… all prayer…all perseverance…all the saints."

Dear Lord, this extensive call to prayer humbles my heart. I see much room to grow in my prayer life. Yet, it stirs my faith as well. By Your Spirit of grace at work in me, such praying is possible. O Lord, please make of me such a prayer warrior, Amen.

blueletterbible.org/devotionals



"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - December 23

Jesus' Call to Pray without Ceasing

Pray without ceasing…Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart…"And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him?" (1 Thessalonians 5:17 and Luke 18:1, 7)

Praying without ceasing is the way to relate rightly to the God of all grace. Jesus called His followers to live in this prayerful manner when He told a parable that contrasted a godless human judge with God, our righteous judge.

The primary message of this parable would be that men should persistently pray at all times. "Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart." Jesus used the illustration of a wronged widow who was appealing for help from an unjust judge. At first, the judge had no interest in assisting her. However, when she persisted, he relented and gave her relief. "Though I do not fear God nor regard man, because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me" (Luke 18:4-5). The ungodly judge granted her relief, although he was not motivated by fear of God nor by compassion for man. His action was merely self-serving. Jesus then contrasts this to the holy motivations of our loving God, who responds to the needs of His children, as they call upon His name. "And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him?" (Luke 18:7). The Lord Jesus hereby encourages us to pray without ceasing.

Jesus' own life was an example of praying persistently. At times, Jesus was up before dawn for extended prayer with the Father. "Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed" (Mark 1:35). On another occasion, He prayed the entire night through. "Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God" (Luke 6:12). In addition to His rich private prayer life, Jesus prayed regularly in public as well. "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes…Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them… Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me" (Matthew 11:25; Luke 9:16; and John 11:41-42). If Jesus, the Son of God prayed habitually, how clearly we are to do the same.

Jesus, my Lord, I want to heed Your radical call to a path of unceasing prayer. I want to follow Your wonderful example of a life of habitual prayer—in private and in public. Lord, stir my heart to such prayer, by Your empowering grace, Amen.

blueletterbible.org/devotionals


"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - December 22

Praying Without Ceasing to the God of All Grace

The God of all grace…pray without ceasing. (1 Peter 5:10 and 1 Thessalonians 5:17)

These two biblical phrases are ideal correlations. The only way that we can live as God intends is by grace. Our God is the source of all grace. We draw upon God's grace through humility and faith. Prayer is the most appropriate expression of humility and faith. We pray, because we need God's help (thereby, expressing humility). We pray, because we believe God will help us (thereby, exercising faith). Consequently, praying without ceasing is a simple, yet profound, way to relate rightly to the God of all grace.

"Pray without ceasing." This command does not require the incessant recitation of prayers. Rather, it is a call to a prayerful way of living: "continuing steadfastly in prayer" (Romans 12:12). Praying without ceasing is primarily an attitude of the heart. To pray without ceasing is to have the inner man humbly dependent upon the Lord, while consistently addressing actual prayers to the Lord.

Paul was such a man of prayer. The Lord was definitely the object of his expectations: "the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope" (1 Timothy 1:1). In addition, he consistently offered prayers unto the Lord: "without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers…do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers…without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day" (Romans 1:9; Ephesians 1:16; and 2 Timothy 1:3). Notice also, Paul's prayers included recurring prayer for others. Those who live by grace develop hearts of intercession, praying that others might enjoy the grace of God as well.

It is common among the spiritual examples of Scripture to find lives of prayer. David was clearly one who prayed without ceasing. A great portion of his Psalms are prayers to the Lord. Some Psalms testify of his habit of prayer. "Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice" (Psalm 55:17). Jeremiah was a man of prayer. "O LORD, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in the day of affliction…Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved…Give heed to me, O LORD, and listen to the voice of those who contend with me!" (Jeremiah 16:19; 17:14; and 18:19). Daniel was also a man of prayer. "He knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days" (Daniel 6:10). Likewise, those who truly live by grace increasingly become people of prayer.

O God of all grace, I want to live in humble dependence upon Your abounding grace. Teach me to express humility and faith in a life of unceasing prayer. This I pray through Christ Jesus my Lord, Amen.

blueletterbible.org/devotionals


"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - December 21

Once More on Following Jesus as a Disciple

"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me…My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." (Luke 9:23 and John 10:27)

As we have seen, following Jesus as a disciple is another way to relate rightly to the Lord in humility and faith. Discipleship begins with renouncing the self-life and confessing death for the self-life. "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily." Initially and continually, these humble and trusting responses to Jesus deal with self, which is the basic obstruction to following Him. Ultimately, three simple words express the very heart of discipleship: "and follow Me."

All of the Christian life can be summed up and fulfilled in this profound relationship-a humble, dependent walk with the Lord. It is the will of God that we grow in His all-sufficient grace. "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). Jesus came overflowing with that grace. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). As we follow Him in humble dependence, He pours His grace into our lives.

Jesus has all that we need. In Him, the complete resources of the Godhead for our personal wholeness reside. "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him" (Colossians 2:9-10). In Him, all wisdom and knowledge are contained: "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3). Jesus is the very life that we are called to live: "Christ who is our life" (Colossians 3:4). He is our "all and in all" (Colossians 3:11).

We need the Lord Jesus like sheep need a shepherd. In fact, our discipleship walk with Christ is portrayed in Scripture as sheep following a shepherd. Those who are in the world are like sheep without a shepherd. What a needy picture that is. "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). Jesus, our shepherd, is the ultimate shepherd. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep" (John 10:11). Having died for us, our shepherd wants to lead us throughout our lives. "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me" (John 10:27). In humble dependence, we can hear His voice through His word and be led by His Spirit. Thereby, we enter into the fullness of the grace that God has for us during our pilgrimage here on this earth.

Jesus, my Good Shepherd, I need You like a sheep needs a shepherd. I humbly trust You to lead me through life, pouring out upon me the fullness of Your grace, in Your wonderful name, Amen.

blueletterbible.org/devotionals


"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - December 20

More on Following Jesus as a Disciple

"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me"…But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Luke 9:23 and Galatians 6:14)

Following Jesus as a disciple is one way to relate rightly to the Lord in humility and faith. Renouncing the self-life is the first aspect of following Jesus. "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself." It is certainly humbling to admit that any life we would develop by our own natural resources is unacceptable to the Lord and must be repudiated. The next aspect of being a disciple is also humbling.

This second issue in discipleship is the cross: "and take up his cross." When Jesus spoke of the cross, He was speaking of the ultimate instrument of execution in His day. Consequently, after renunciation of self, we are to confess death for self. The means of this death is the cross of Christ. Those who want to follow Jesus as disciples are to take the cross of Christ as their own personal cross. In doing so, they are admitting to God that they deserved to die upon that cross. "For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). Furthermore, they are agreeing with the word of God that Jesus died upon that cross on their behalf. "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures …who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree" (1 Corinthians 15:3 and 1 Peter 2:24). This gospel (which brings forgiveness of sins to all who believe) includes the essential truth of the resurrection. "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:1, 3-4).

Another wondrous benefit of the cross is that we who believe in Jesus also died there with Him. "Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him" (Romans 6:6). The old self-life that we were developing while "in Adam" (1 Corinthians 15:22) was executed on the cross with Christ. Yes, the cross is the way out of this world of dead sinners, and we can rightly boast in that truth. "But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Meanwhile, the attitudes and resources of the old man persist in our flesh (our natural humanity). Thus, we are to renounce self and confess death to self day by day: "let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily."

Lord Jesus, I confess Your cross as my cross. I deserved to die there, but You died in my place. I boast in that cross, where I also died with You. Now, through the cross, I have escaped this dead, condemned world. I praise You that these truths both humble my heart and stir my faith!

blueletterbible.org/devotionals


"To God be the glory!!"


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