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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.com/devotion


"To God be the glory!!"


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1/28/15 8:25 A

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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, Christ-likeness 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.

blueletterbible.com/devotion


"To God be the glory!!"


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1/27/15 7:44 A

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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, Christ-like 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!

blueletterbible.com/devotion


"To God be the glory!!"


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1/26/15 8:19 A

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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.

blueletterbible.com/devotion


"To God be the glory!!"


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1/25/15 9:52 A

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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.

blueletterbible.com/devotion


"To God be the glory!!"


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1/24/15 8:30 A

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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.com/devotion


"To God be the glory!!"


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1/23/15 9:32 A

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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.

blueletterbible.com/devotion


"To God be the glory!!"


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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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"To God be the glory!!"


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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.

blueletterbible.com/devotion

"To God be the glory!!"


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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 Christlikeness. 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 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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

Merry Christmas !

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Edited by: WESLEYV at: 12/25/2014 (08:25)
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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

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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.

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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.

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Edited by: WESLEYV at: 12/22/2014 (08:46)
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Today's Promise from the Bible - 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.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - 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!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 19

Following Jesus as a Disciple

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…Follow Me…If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." (Matthew 28:19; John 1:43; and Luke 9:23)

Living daily by God's grace depends upon getting to know Him and then walking in the humility and faith that result from fellowship with Him. We have reflected upon four ways to relate rightly to the Lord in humility and faith: living by the Spirit, living by resurrection power, living by the sufficiency of God, and living by the promises of God. Another example is following Jesus as a disciple.

When our Lord was about to leave His disciples, He gave them the marching orders that were to guide the lives of His people until He would return. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations." Jesus had been calling out people to follow Him as disciples. Now, they were to continue doing the same. A disciple is a follower of a master, who guides and shapes the lives of his followers. Jesus is the ultimate Master, who gives us a new life in Him-life eternal. Jesus' invitation to discipleship was "Follow Me." Along with this invitation, Jesus often explained the terms of discipleship: "If anyone desires to come after Me." This would inform the willing and interested about how to respond. These terms dramatically depict the necessity of relating to the Lord in humility and faith.

The first aspect of being a disciple of Jesus is renouncing the self-life. "Let him deny himself." True disciples refuse to develop their lives by fallen human resources (which are inherited from Adam through physical birth). Thus, followers of Jesus are to repudiate self-sufficiency, self-help, self-righteousness, self-exaltation, and the like. Our willingness to embrace this term of discipleship will be seen by our humble agreement with similar biblical pronouncements. "Make no provision for the flesh" (Romans 13:14). Those denying self do not want the flesh to have opportunities to indulge itself. "The flesh profits nothing" (John 6:63). Those who renounce self confess its total spiritual bankruptcy. We "have no confidence in the flesh" (Philippians 3:3). Those who repudiate the self-life do not want to place any hope in the natural resources of the flesh. "That no flesh should glory in His presence" (1 Corinthians 1:29). Those denying the self-life agree that nothing of the flesh can ever boast in itself before the Lord God Almighty.

Dear Lord Jesus, I want to relate rightly to You by following You as a disciple. I do not want my flesh to have any opportunity to indulge itself. I confess total spiritual bankruptcy in my flesh. I want to place no hope in my flesh. I agree that my flesh can never boast before You. I humbly renounce the self-life!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 18

Even More on Relating Rightly to the God of All Grace

The God of all grace…Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God…He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. (1 Peter 5:10; 2 Corinthians 3:5; and Hebrews 8:6)

If we are going to live by grace as God intends, we must get to know "the God of all grace." As we get to know Him, humility and faith develop in our lives. They are relational realities. They become real in our lives as a result of getting to know the Lord better and better. As we walk with the Lord in humble dependence, we are living by the grace of God. The Lord gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5 and James 4:6), and faith accesses grace (Romans 5:2; 4:16). The Scriptures indicate that there are many ways to relate rightly to the Lord in humility and faith. In our previous meditation, we saw that living by the Spirit and living by resurrection power are two examples of this truth. Now we will consider two more examples.

Living by the sufficiency of God is a profound opportunity to relate to the Lord in humility and faith. This heavenly perspective begins with a declaration of our own inadequacy. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves." It is true that we disciples of Jesus Christ are so inadequate that we are unable to produce any of the Christian life ourselves. Jesus Himself taught this radical fact. "Without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5b). If we embrace this humbling truth, we are walking in humility before the Lord. The corresponding declaration points us to the source that we need. "But our sufficiency is from God." Only God's resources are sufficient to produce the kind of fruitful spiritual life that God calls us to live. Jesus taught this great truth as well. "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit" (John 15:5a). If we accept this encouraging truth, we are walking in faith toward the Lord.

Living by the promises of God offers another significant opportunity to relate to the Lord in humility and faith. "He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises." The promises of the old covenant of law (which are basically, "Do these commands, and you shall live"-see Leviticus 18:5) depend on man's ability and faithfulness. The better promises of the new covenant of grace depend upon God's ability and faithfulness. Abraham was "fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform" (Romans 4:21). Sarah "judged Him faithful who had promised" (Hebrews 11:11). It is humbling to know that we can't perform well enough to enjoy the promises of the law. Contrariwise, it is faith building to know we can trust in the Lord to fulfill all His promises of grace.

Dear Lord of all grace, I humbly admit that I can only live by Your sufficiency and your promises. By faith, I look to You to do for me and in me what You alone can do, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 17

More on Relating Rightly to the God of All Grace

The God of all grace…it is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection. (1 Peter 5:10; John 6:63; and Philippians 3:10)

In order to live day by day by grace, we must relate rightly to "the God of all grace" (1 Peter 5:10). Essentially, this involves developing a personal relationship with the Lord. "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (John 17:3). A growing relationship with the true and living God produces the relational realities of humility and faith. Thereby, we are able to live by the grace of God: "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble…We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (1 Peter 5:5 and Romans 5:2).

As we are in the word of God, growing in the knowing of God, there are many ways to express humility and faith toward the Lord. We have emphasized a number of these in previous sections of these devotions. Living by the Spirit was one of these. "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing." The spiritual life that the Holy Spirit alone can provide is what the new covenant of grace offers to man. God "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 3:6). As we humbly depend upon the Spirit, God graciously fills our lives with His life.

We considered another way to walk in humility and faith through living by the power of the resurrection: "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection." Yes, resurrection power is available for daily Christian living. "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know…what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:18-20). Of course, experiencing this power requires humbly admitting that we have no power on our own, and then relying on His mighty power.

Living by the Spirit and living by resurrection power are two ways to relate rightly to the God of all grace. They both are experienced through humble dependence. They both result in the grace of God becoming our daily resource from the Lord.

Lord God of all grace, I need Your Holy Spirit to fill me with Your life. My flesh profits nothing. Lord, each day I need the power of Your resurrection working in my life. I have no effective power that I can generate on my own. I praise You that these are available through humble dependence!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 16

Relating Rightly to the God of All Grace

The God of all grace…to the praise of the glory of His grace…the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ…the Spirit of grace. (1 Peter 5:10; Ephesians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 8:9; and Hebrews 10:29)

Our Lord God is "the God of all grace." God's comprehensive and infinite grace is characteristic of all the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). The Father will be honored forever for His grace, so we read: "to the praise of the glory of His grace." The Son makes that grace available to all who believe, so it is called "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ." The Spirit applies that grace in the hearts of those who follow Jesus Christ, so He is called "the Spirit of grace." Grace is found in God alone. Therefore, one must relate rightly to the God of all grace in order to receive all that He has for us in fulfilling His purposes and glorifying His name.

We relate rightly to the God of grace by developing a personal relationship with Him. Getting to know God is what life with the Lord is all about. "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (John 17:3). In fact, knowing the Lord is man's ultimate treasure in all of creation. Everything else that competes is to be considered as loss. "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:7-8). It is not surprising then that getting increasingly acquainted with the Lord is the way that His grace impacts our lives. "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord" (2 Peter 1:2).

As we get to know the God of all grace more and more, He develops in us two strategic relational realities: humility and faith. Relational realities are spiritual qualities that become practically real as a result of a growing relationship with Christ. We have looked at these two spiritual qualities many times throughout our meditations. Repeated reflection on humility and faith is appropriate, since they unfold the practical heart of living daily by God's grace. "Be clothed with humility, for 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble'" (1 Peter 5:5). God's grace is given to those who "walk humbly with [their] God" (Micah 6:8). Likewise, faith accesses grace. "We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Romans 5:2). Walking in humble dependence is the way to relate rightly to the God of all grace.

Dear God of all grace, I want to relate to You rightly that I might live daily by Your grace. Help me to know You more and more that humility and faith might develop in my life. I long to walk before You in humble dependence, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 15

God Freely Giving, Man Humbly Receiving

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?…What do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you glory as if you had not received it? (Romans 8:32 and 1 Corinthians 4:7)

The Lord rescues and transforms lives by His grace. This plan of God is established upon Jesus being given as a sacrifice for our sins: "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all." This gift of God's Son assures us that God will also give us with Christ everything we need. "How shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" God's giving is to be coupled with man's receiving. As God is freely giving to man, He wants man to be humbly receiving from Him.

Every blessing that we have was received from God. "What do you have that you did not receive?" There is no other source from which we can receive true spiritual benefits than the Lord above. "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven" (John 3:27). The joy of having Jesus dwelling in our lives became ours by receiving Christ. "As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12). The fact that we are now reconciled to God and are no longer His enemies is based upon receiving the gift of reconciliation. "We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation" (Romans 5:11). The privilege of serving the Lord in ministry is a gift of grace to be received: "the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24). Another blessing we received from the Lord is the spiritual gifting that enables us in our ministries. "As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another" (1 Peter 4:10).

From initial salvation to growth and service, all that is needed must be received from the Lord. This is an encouraging reality. Yet, it is also a humbling truth. It leaves no room for us to glory in ourselves. "Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you glory as if you had not received it?"

Dear Lord, I confess that every blessing I have ever received was given by You from above. I bow humbly before You, admitting that I do not deserve even one of Your innumerable benefits. Lord, I praise You for freely giving to me. I want to humbly receive from You day by day, in Your gracious name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 14

Jesus Given for Us to be Given to Us

For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Romans 5:10)

As the ultimate free gift of God's grace, Jesus was given for us (dying for our sins): "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all" (Romans 8:32). Moreover, He was given for us to be given to us (that He might express His life in and through us).

We began as enemies of God. Certainly, we were lost and condemned. Yet, our situation was even worse than that. Our lives worked against the purposes and plans of God: "And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works" (Colossians 1:21). Our evil thoughts and activities set us against the Lord in both mind and deed. The only way that we could become the friends of God was for Jesus to be given as a sacrifice for us. "When we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son." The Lord had to deal with our dual problem of sin and unrighteousness. "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Father graciously placed our sins on His Son that we might have His righteousness. This precious gift of reconciliation, the turning of enemies into friends, was for all who would believe in Christ.

Even after this rich grace of reconciliation, the Lord had "much more" yet to give us. "For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." What remained after Jesus was given for us (for our reconciliation) was that He would be given to us. Jesus came to dwell within us so that we could be "saved by His life." Why do the friends of Jesus still need to be saved? Well, His followers would be persistently threatened by the world, the flesh, and the devil. They would still be vulnerable to temptation, doubt, fear, fruitlessness, distraction, inadequacy, and more. How then would they be saved from such threats? This ongoing rescuing work of the Lord would be "by His life"-by Jesus living in and through His people. "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20). Jesus was not, and is not, susceptible to any of these threatening issues. When He is allowed to express His life in and through us, each of us finds all that we need all of the time. This astounding statement is true, because "Christ is all and in all" (Colossians 3:11).

Dear Father, my reconciler, I thank You for giving Your Son for me, that I might be changed from Your enemy to Your friend by His death. Yet, much more, I praise You for giving Your Son to me, that I might be saved from spiritual futility day by day by His life. Lord Jesus, live in and through me, I humbly pray, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 13

The Comprehensive, Freely Giving Plan of God

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32)

By the free gift of God's grace, ministry is given to us. "I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me" (Ephesians 3:7). By His grace at work in us, our ministry can be marked with courage and selflessness. "None of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself" (Acts 20:24). This pattern of grace fits the entire plan of God, because His plan is a comprehensive, freely giving plan.

As we have seen, give is the language of grace. Note the extent to which God desires to give to us. He wants to "freely give us all things." Everything that God considers as needful for fullness of life, He freely makes available by His grace. The Scriptures repeatedly speak in such comprehensive terms. "His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3a). All that it takes to live as God intends, and to grow in godliness as He desires, has already been given to us in Christ. As we get to know the Lord more and more, all that He has given us in Christ is progressively brought into our experience: "through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue" (2 Peter 1:3b).

The death of Christ is our assurance of having the comprehensive dimensions of God's grace fully available to us: "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all." Jesus is the Father's deeply loved Son. Through a prophet of old, the Father proclaimed this divine love. "Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights!" (Isaiah 42:1). When the Son was on this earth, the Father declared His loving delight from heaven. "And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased'" (Matthew 3:17). Jesus is consistently revealed as the object of the Father's love: "The Father loves the Son…the Son of His love" (John 3:35 and Colossians 1:13). The magnitude of the Father's love for His Son is behind His love gift to us. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16). Our loving and generous Father has not held back from us the sacrificial gift of His beloved Son, who died for our sins. Now, if He did not hold back His most prized treasure (His own beloved Son), there is no way that the Father will hold back any lesser gift from us. "How shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"

Loving Father, I praise You for Your great love, in giving Your beloved Son to die for my sins. I thank You for the assurance this brings that everything else that I need will be freely given with Him!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 12

Courageous, Selfless Ministry by the Grace of God

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)

Paul was given ministry by the grace of God. "I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me" (Ephesians 3:7). To put it another way, he received his ministry from the Lord: "the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus." Paul's bountiful ministry was developed by the grace of God. "I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Corinthians 15:10). Also, his ministry was to declare God's grace: "to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." Paul's life demonstrates that such "grace-saturated" service leads to courageous, selfless ministry.

Paul's ministry was courageous. "But none of these things move me." The things that Paul faced were formidable. "The Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me" (Acts 20:23). Down through the centuries, matters less substantial than these have moved many a professing Christian from completing his calling. Yet, by leaning upon the sustaining grace of God, Paul courageously endured great hardship and danger in the service of the gospel of grace. "But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings" (2 Corinthians 6:4-5).

Related to this courageous service was Paul's selflessness: "nor do I count my life dear to myself." Paul's ministry was not motivated by self-interest. Rather, it was motivated by the blessings that others could receive and, ultimately, the glory that the Lord would receive. Paul was content to have his service be no more than a spiritual enhancement to the godly service of others. "Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all" (Philippians 2:17). Even more, Paul served for the honor of the Lord Jesus: "according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death" (Philippians 2:20). Such renouncing of self allowed Paul to "finish [his] race with joy." Thus his final testimony would become, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7).

Jesus, my Lord and Master, You know the things that threaten to move me away from Your calling for me. You know the times I am tempted to hold my life dear, wanting to shrink back in a self-serving manner. Please saturate my life with Your grace that I might serve courageously and selflessly, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 11

Given Ministry by the Grace of God

Of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. (Ephesians 3:7-8)

As we have seen, "give" is the language of grace. "I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus" (1 Corinthians 1:4). Our heavenly Father wants to give us all the blessings of His kingdom as a gift of His grace. "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32). No wonder then that we are given ministry by the grace of God.

The Apostle Paul had a special stewardship entrusted to Him by God's grace. "If indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you" (Ephesians 3:2). This special calling given to him by God concerned the miracle of Jew and Gentile being made one in Christ (as the body of Christ): "that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel" (Ephesians 3:6). This wondrous "mystery of Christ" (Ephesians 3:4) was a distinctive emphasis of his ministry: "Of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power." Paul repeatedly stated that this ministry calling was given to him by grace. "To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ."

On other occasions, Paul spoke of his ministry without referring to this special emphasis of Jews and Gentiles becoming one in Christ. Still, he described his ministry in the same terms of grace given to him. "According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation" (1 Corinthians 3:10). Here, Paul views his service as a spiritual builder laying a spiritual foundation for the construction of godly lives. God's grace equipped him and sustained him in such service.

We are all called to serve our Master. In our hearts there is a desire to be used of our King. How comforting to know that our ministry will develop by God's grace given to us. Again, humble dependence is the path to such grace for ministry. "To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given."

Lord Jesus, I long to serve You in ministry. I rejoice that ministry depends upon Your grace, not my abilities. Lord, I humbly bow before You, seeking You for the necessary grace to serve You in any way that You desire, in Your gracious name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 10

Give, the Language of Grace

I have written more boldly to you on some points…because of the grace given to me by God…I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus. (Romans 15:15 and 1 Corinthians 1:4)

The grace of God (which produces boldness in those who live by it) is a gift from God. "I have written more boldly to you on some points… because of the grace given to me by God." In fact, "give" is basic to the language of grace.

When Paul began his first letter to the believers in Corinth, he emphasized this truth. "I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus." This is the starting point for all of the work of God in human hearts. The initial work of salvation is by the gift of God's grace. None of it is produced by the work of man. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). This same pattern of the giving of grace is true concerning every good thing that God wants to accomplish in man. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights" (James 1:17).

What God wants to do in our hearts is accomplished by His grace, which must be given to us. This is true concerning eternal life. "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish" (John 10:28). This also pertains to the Holy Spirit in our lives. "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever" (John 14:16). It is true concerning spiritual gifts. "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all…But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift" (1 Corinthians 12:7 and Ephesians 4:7). This pattern applies to spiritual rest and peace as well. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you" (John 11:28; 14:27). When it comes to the greatest matter of all (getting to know the Lord better), God must give to us what is required for such growth: "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). All of these precious benefits from God are a result of His giving of His grace into our lives.

Will the giving heart of God ever cease toward us? We need never fear that God will tire of giving us grace. "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).

Lord God, giver of every gift of grace, I thank You for the rich and extensive grace that You have given to me. Help me to understand that all of Your kingdom is brought into my experience by the giving of Your grace, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 9

More on the Boldness of Grace

I have written more boldly to you on some points…because of the grace given to me by God…Great is my boldness of speech toward you. (Romans 15:15 and 2 Corinthians 7:4)

When the grace of God is at work in the lives of His people, spiritual boldness is a common result. This was clearly the testimony of the early church. "They spoke the word of God with boldness …And great grace was upon them all" (Acts 4:31, 33).

The Apostle Paul experienced this same boldness, as he ministered by the grace of God. "I have written more boldly to you on some points…because of the grace given to me by God." Paul's letters often displayed the boldness of grace. Romans was no exception. As he applied the radical truths of the gospel of grace (given in the earlier chapters of Romans), he spoke with characteristic boldness. His exhortation to lay our lives on God's altar is a prime example. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:1-2). His call to be clothed in Christ, leaving no room for fleshly tendencies, is another notable instance of boldness. "Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in licentiousness and lewdness, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts" (Romans 13:13-14). His pronouncement concerning the Lord's ownership of our lives is one more illustration of the boldness of grace. "For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's" (Romans 14:8).

"Great is my boldness of speech toward you" wrote Paul to the saints at Corinth. Just prior to this confession of boldness, he had given a radical request to be separate from the defilements of the world. "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God" (2 Corinthians 6:14-16). Yes, God's grace works boldness into our lives.

Dear Father, I praise You for the radical nature of You and Your truth. I thank You for the boldness that Your grace can bring into lives. By Your grace at work in me, cause me to think, pray, speak, and act in godly boldness. For Your glory, grant me, I pray, a boldness that is confident, but not arrogant; daring, but not reckless; uncompromising, but not harsh; unrelenting, but not insensitive; fearless, but not unloving.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 8

The Boldness of Grace

Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word…and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness…And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:29, 31, 33)

Those who serve God acceptably must do so by grace. "Let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably" (Hebrews 12:28). Those who serve by grace find that the boldness of grace develops in their lives.

The early church gave testimony to this reality. Soon after Jesus' ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the disciples were boldly proclaiming Jesus throughout Jerusalem. This was extremely aggravating to the religious leaders: "being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead" (Acts 4:2). When they arrested the disciples, Peter boldly preached Jesus before the Jewish authorities. "This [Jesus] is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.' Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:11-12). This bold application of prophecy and proclamation of the gospel astonished the religious establishment. "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John…they marveled" (Acts 4:13). Yet, in their hardness of heart, they further threatened the disciples. Being released, they gathered the church to pray for continued boldness. "Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word." The answer to this prayer was another filling with the Spirit, resulting in further boldness. "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness." This filling of the Holy Spirit brought great measures of God's grace actively working in their lives, sustaining this powerful witness of the risen Christ. "And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all."

This is the boldness of the new covenant of grace. "Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech" (2 Corinthians 3:12). This hope is new covenant confidence. It is part of the abundant life that God brings to us by His Spirit of grace: "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 3:6).

Heavenly Father, I need this same boldness in my life. Too often, I am hesitant and apprehensive concerning my testimony of You and Your truths. Please fill me afresh with Your Spirit that I might minister in the boldness of Your grace, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 7

Grace for Serving the Lord Acceptably

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. (Hebrews 12:28)

We who follow Jesus dwell in a unique kingdom, the kingdom of God. "For our citizenship is in heaven" (Philippians 3:20). In order to serve the Lord acceptably, we must learn to serve in a unique, heavenly manner-by grace.

We all began in a different kingdom than the Lord's. We were under the powerful influence of spiritual darkness. We existed in a realm devoid of true love. Then, our great God rescued us, bringing us into a kingdom of light and love: "giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love" (Colossians 1:12-13). Furthermore, in that former kingdom, we were easily threatened by every manner of instability. Our lives were built upon the sand of philosophical speculations and human inadequacies. Now we are in "a kingdom which cannot be shaken." We entered this kingdom by the rock solid provision of grace, and we stand in this same grace today: "justified freely by His grace…we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Rom 3:24; 5:2). When circumstances change, we need not be shaken. Our King and His grace are constantly available and always sufficient. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).

When we received the King as our Lord and Savior (see John 1:12), the full resources of His kingdom became our portion forever. God "has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3). Yet, in a profound sense, we are still receiving His kingdom. "We are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken." This process of receiving involves the daily appropriation of His kingdom provisions, by faith. The provision of grace is especially strategic, since this is how we serve God acceptably. "Let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably." We are called to serve our King. We cannot serve Him by merely attempting to do the best we can. That would be law performance, energized by the flesh. We need to have grace as our empowering resource, just as the early church had. "And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all" (Acts 4:33). Desiring to minister by grace allows our service to flow forth acceptably as worship unto the Lord: "with reverence and godly fear."

Lord Jesus, my King, I praise You for bringing me into Your unshakable kingdom. I want to serve You acceptably—having my service arise to You from a worshiping heart. So, I humbly look to You to fill my life with Your grace, in Your name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 6

Once More on Continuing in the Word of His Grace

I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able…All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (Acts 20:32 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17)

God's word (which is "the word of His grace") is characterized by heavenly ability: "which is able…and is profitable for." By God's grace at work, the Scriptures take us into the wholeness that is ours in Christ, as well as fully equip us for service unto Christ.

All of the word of God's grace is divinely inspired. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." Although written through human instruments, the Bible message is what God wanted to say. Therefore, the word is able to bring great spiritual profit into our lives: "and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." God's word "is profitable for doctrine." The teaching ministry of the word reveals to us the path of godliness. "Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105). Also, God's word "is profitable for… reproof." The admonishing ministry of the word tells us when we are drifting from God's path. "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition" (1 Corinthians 10:11). Further, God's word "is profitable for… correction." The restoring ministry of the word calls us back to the straight and narrow path of godliness. "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). Finally, God's word "is profitable for… instruction in righteousness." The transforming ministry of the word moves us on down the path of Christlikeness. "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror [the mirror of the word] the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

As we allow God's word to carry on this profitable, four-fold process, His grace is bringing us into a greater experience of the wholeness that is available to us in Christ: "that the man of God may be complete." Additionally, this process is fully preparing us to serve the Lord in any manner that He desires: "thoroughly equipped for every good work."

Dear Lord, I need the word of Your grace at work in my life daily. Please impact my life by the supernatural ability of Your word. Teach me, reprove me, correct me, and instruct me in righteousness that I might walk in Your wholeness and serve for Your glory, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 5

Still More on Continuing in the Word of His Grace

I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able…But as for you, continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (Acts 20:32 and 2 Timothy 3:14-15)

The present verses again point us to our current theme, continuing in the word of God's grace. Only the grace of God can provide what is needed for the life we are called to live. This necessary grace is appropriated through "the word of His grace." This life-giving grace is to be lived in day by day (ideally, from childhood through old age).

Paul urged Timothy to continue in the biblical truth that he had been taught, truth about which he had become convinced. "Continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of." God's word not only instructs us in His ways, it also convinces us of their validity. In this process, God uses human instruments: "knowing from whom you have learned them." In Timothy's spiritual training, the Lord used the prophets of old (who were inspired to write the Scriptures), as well as Paul (who discipled Timothy). Timothy's mother and grandmother were also a vital part of this process. "I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice" (2 Timothy 1:5). Thus, his spiritual nurture began in his childhood years. "From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures." It is the will of God that children be raised upon the Scriptures. "Do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). If we were not raised upon the word, God wants to begin feeding it to us at new birth. "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2). If we have never had a serious diet of the word, today is now the day to begin.

As we are learning the word of God, its ability is unleashed in our lives. Saving grace is the first great blessing the Lord wants to bring us through the Scriptures: "which are able to make you wise for salvation." People can be exceedingly foolish concerning salvation, until they are enlightened through the word of God. Some think they do not need to be saved. Others think they can somehow save themselves. The Bible reveals the necessary path for all: "through faith which is in Christ Jesus."

Dear God of my salvation, I praise You for Your word, which brought me the wisdom to trust in the saving grace of Christ. I thank You for every person You have ever used to bring me any aspect of Your truth. Please teach me more and more—and please use me to get Your word to others, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 4

Even More on Continuing in the Word of His Grace

I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able…Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed"…For this reason I have sent Timothy to you…who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church. (Acts 20:32; John 8:31; and 1 Corinthians 4:17)

God's grace characterizes His word: "I commend you to God and to the word of His grace." This permeating presence of grace in the Scriptures is what makes God's word so able to effect godly changes in our lives: "the word of His grace, which is able." This is why the Lord wants us to continue in His word: "continue in the faith" (Acts 14:22). Also, continuing in the word allows the Lord to remind us of things pertaining to grace, things we need to hear over and over again.

Jesus called professing disciples to continue in His word. "Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, 'If you abide [remain, continue] in My word, you are My disciples indeed'." It is impossible to truly live as a follower of Jesus without continuing in His word. The Christian life is lived by grace. The Bible is "the word of His grace." We cannot follow Jesus by grace apart from hearing regularly of His grace. A natural bent of humanity (including, the flesh of true believers) is toward human works and law performance. This is one reason why the Lord wants us to hear of His effective grace day by day.

The ministry of reminding is part of this process. The Apostle Paul sent out his ministry partner, Timothy, to remind the saints of matters that he himself had expounded upon in all the churches. "For this reason I have sent Timothy to you…who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church." Later, after Timothy had become a pastor in Ephesus, Paul wrote urging him to remind the saints of some basic elements of grace (matters pertaining to the faithfulness of God). "This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. Remind them of these things" (2 Timothy 2:11-14). Such vital truths need to be repeatedly considered. The Apostle Peter knew that to neglect the import of reminders was to be spiritually irresponsible. "Therefore I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you" (2 Peter 1:12).

O Lord of persistence and patience, I confess the need to hear of Your grace day after day. I long to be a true disciple, living by grace. Please remind me of the necessity to be in the word of Your grace consistently, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - December 3

More on Continuing in the Word of His Grace

I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance…receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (Acts 20:32 and James 1:21)

Paul's exhortation to followers of Jesus Christ was to "continue in the faith" (Acts 14:22). "The faith" (in which we are to continue) is the word of God. Paul later called it "the word of His grace." Since God's word is permeated with His grace, it is able to do glorious things in our lives.

James wrote of "the implanted word, which is able to save your souls." God wants to plant His word into human hearts that the word might bear fruit therein. This is how the Lord began His work in us: "having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever" (1 Peter 1:23). By communicating His word to us (through preaching, teaching, witness, or evangelism), God sowed the incorruptible, eternal seed of "the word of His grace" in our lives. As we believed on Him, the seed of the word germinated in our hearts unto everlasting life. Now, the Lord wants to continue sowing His life-giving seed into our lives that we might grow, mature, and abound in Him.

Our role involves a humble receptivity of His word. "Receive with meekness the implanted word." We are to continually take in the Scriptures with a sense of urgent, personal need. Such an attitude would indicate agreement with the words of Jesus. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). We cannot truly continue in grace without regularly partaking of "the word of His grace." If we humbly and consistently take in God's word, the grace of God at work through the word will demonstrate the transforming power of the Scriptures: "which is able to save your souls." This delivering work of God's word is not limited to justification (that is, saving us from the guilt and condemnation of sin). It also includes sanctification (that is, saving us from the tempting and controlling influence of sin in daily living). Jesus prayed for His followers concerning this sanctifying work of the word of God. "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17). God's word is able to make our lives all that He wants them to be: "the word of His grace, which is able."

Lord God, giver of life, I thank You for planting in my heart the life-giving seed of Your word. I praise You for the changes Your word has already brought into my life. Now, I long to continue partaking of the word of Your grace, which is able to deliver my soul from all that is diminishing and destructive to all that is edifying and sanctifying, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - December 2

Continuing in the Word of His Grace

And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith…And now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace. (Acts 14:21-22; 20:32)

The Lord desires for us to continue in a growing relationship with Him, continuing to draw more and more upon His grace: "continue with the Lord…continue in the grace of God" (Acts 11:23; 13:43). One vital aspect of this process is to be continuing in the word of His grace.

As Paul and his missionary team passed through Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch (in Pisidia), they urged the disciples there to "continue in the faith." "The faith" is often used in the Scriptures to refer to the revealed truth of God (in which we are to place our faith). Jude wrote in this manner. "I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude v. 3). Thus, the word of God is "the faith." Consequently, the call to "continue in the faith" was an exhortation to live by abiding in the word of God.

Later, when Paul was visiting the church leaders from Ephesus for the last time, he entrusted them unto the care of the Lord and His word. In doing this, he referred to the Scriptures as "the word of His grace." Grace characterizes the word of God. Grace permeates the word of God. Grace flows from the word of God. It is in the Scriptures that we learn of God's grace. There we learn of what it is (the Lord's undeserved riches, poured out freely for our justification, sanctification, and glorification). There we learn of our great need for grace (a desperate, comprehensive, continual need). Also, in the word we learn of how we can access it (through humble dependence upon the Lord).

If we are going to continue in grace as the Lord desires, we must continue in the word of His grace. We will want to read it prayerfully day by day. We will want to study it regularly for increased understanding. We will want to meditate upon it often for implications and applications. Above all, we will want to be in the word consistently that we might get to know the Christ of the word. In knowing Him more, His mighty grace will properly impact our lives.

Dear Lord Jesus, I thank You for the word of Your grace. Please forgive me for any times when I did not grant Your word the place that it deserves. I want to continue in it day by day. Please stir in my heart a growing hunger for Your word, in Your holy name, Amen

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Day By Day By Grace - December 1

Continuing in the Grace of God

When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord…Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. (Acts 11:23; 13:43)

Whenever the grace of God is allowed to work in human hearts, there will be evidences that appear. This can bring joy to those who are outwardly observing this inward work of grace. Still, it is appropriate to exhort those who have made progress in grace to continue in the grace of God.

When Barnabas arrived in Antioch to evaluate the reported spiritual revival, he was able to observe the outward confirmations of God's inward work of grace. These verifications of grace caused him to rejoice. "He was glad." However, he knew that words of exhortation were appropriate. Thus, he began to urge them to press on with Christ. He "encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord." It is important for those who have started out with the Lord (through faith in His name) to go on with the Lord. Life in Christ is basically about the most vital relationship of all. "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (John 17:3). The Christian life is not only about meeting the Lord and receiving eternal life. This life-giving relationship with the Lord is to be nurtured and developed day by day unto abundant life.

Some time after Barnabas shared this exhortation with the saints in Antioch (north of Israel), he and Paul were visiting the believers in another Antioch (in Pisidia, in the region of modern day Turkey). Here, they gave a similar exhortation. However, on this occasion, their urging was related to God's grace: "[they] persuaded them to continue in the grace of God." Yes, grace is not only the way we begin with the Lord, but it is also the means by which we go on with Him. God's grace is to be sought every day. It is a major error of the faith to relegate grace to days gone by. We can praise and thank the Lord for all of His grace experienced in previous years. Nevertheless, the grace of God is essential today-and in each new day. Also, it is so fitting that the saints in one town were exhorted concerning continuing in the Lord, whereas others later were urged regarding continuing in grace. Grace cannot be separated from the Lord Jesus. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Lord, I want to continue with You and Your grace. I do not want my experience of You and Your grace to consist only of days gone by. I long to know You better and to experience Your grace more—each day!

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Day By Day By Grace - November 30.

The Observable Nature of the Grace of God

The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad. (Acts 11:21-23)

Fundamentally, the work of God's grace takes place within human hearts. "It is good that the heart be established by grace" (Hebrews 13:9). Yet, whenever grace is at work in lives, visible indicators inevitably appear: "When he came and had seen the grace of God." This statement raises for our consideration the observable nature of the grace of God.

After Stephen was stoned by the religious leaders, an expansive persecution arose. God used this widespread difficulty to extend the proclamation of the gospel. "Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only" (Acts 11:19). Others began to reach out to those whose background was Grecian. "But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus" (Acts 11:20). God used them to touch many lives. "The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord." Word of this spiritual harvest soon reached Jerusalem. "Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch." So, Barnabas traveled to Antioch, where the first great Gentile church was being birthed. When he arrived, the invisible was being made visible: "When he came and had seen the grace of God." It was obvious to Barnabas that God had been working by His grace. Souls were being saved. The saved were growing in godliness.

What Barnabas saw was undoubtedly similar to the spiritual phenomenon that had occurred in the church at Colosse. When the gospel was embraced there, it clearly impacted lives: "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). In Colosse, the outward effects of the inward work of the grace of God was spiritual fruit. When Barnabas saw this same process unfolding in Antioch, "he was glad."

Dear Lord, I praise You that Your grace has given me a new spiritual heart. Now I ask You to impact my heart deeply by Your grace. I pray that the visible evidences of grace will be seen by all who observe my life. May it bring gladness to them and honor to You, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - November 29

Jesus' Example of Grace for Our Speech

You are fairer than the sons of men; grace is poured upon Your lips…Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. (Psalm 45:2 and Colossians 4:6)

In our two previous meditations, we saw Jesus as our two-fold example of suffering and grace. First, He exemplified the suffering that prepares us for God's grace to work in our lives. Second, He exemplified how God's grace is to develop our lives comprehensively. Now, we consider Jesus' example of grace for our speech.

Centuries before the Messiah (Jesus) came into this world, the Psalmist prophesied of the words of grace that would flow from His mouth. "You are fairer than the sons of men; grace is poured upon Your lips." God's grace guided and poured forth through the words of Jesus and set His speech above that of every other person. Those who listened to Him during His earthly pilgrimage testified of this fact. "All bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth" (Luke 4:22). One of the distinctive aspects of Jesus' words was the unique authority this grace imparted. "Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority" (Luke 4:31-32). At one point in Jesus' ministry, the Jewish leaders wanted the temple officers to take Jesus into custody, but they returned empty-handed. "Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, 'Why have you not brought Him?' The officers answered, 'No man ever spoke like this Man!'" (John 7:45-46).

The Lord intends for this same grace to pour forth when we speak. "Let your speech always be with grace." When we humbly allow the Lord to flood our speech with His grace, our words have a heavenly flavor to them: "seasoned with salt." His grace will also add heavenly wisdom to our words: "that you may know how you ought to answer each one." This causes our speech to be edifying to others, because our words are ministering God's grace into their lives. "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers" (Ephesians 4:29).

Lord Jesus, Your words are the kind of words I want to speak—words permeated with the grace of God. Please forgive me for the many words I have expressed that were corrupted by my own fleshly wisdom or selfish interests. I humbly ask You to season my speech with heavenly righteousness and godly insight. I long to impart edifying grace to all who hear me speak. In Your holy name, I pray, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - November 28

Jesus' Example of Grace Developing Our Lives

And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him…And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. (Luke 2:40, 52)

In our previous devotional, we looked at how suffering prepares us for God's grace that our lives might be developed spiritually. Jesus is the primary example of this truth. In our present verses, we see Jesus as the example of grace developing our lives.

When the Son of God came into the world as a man, He laid aside the independent exercise of His deity: "who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant" (Philippians 2:6-7). He then developed as any man should (except, He was without sin). "And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom." Jesus grew in spiritual strength, as the Lord wants us to do: "strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy" (Colossians 1:11). The wisdom of the Father began to permeate His life, as He also desires for us: "that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding" (Colossians 1:9). When Jesus was twelve years old, His spiritual maturity and wisdom were evident, as He discussed the faith with the leaders of Israel. His parents "found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers" (Luke 2:46-47).

Jesus continued to develop in spiritual maturity, pleasing His heavenly Father and impacting the people. "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased…Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying, 'How does this Man know letters, having never studied?'" (Matthew 17:5 and John 7:14-15). The Lord wants our walk with Him and our testimony before others to grow, just as in Jesus' life. "Walk as children of light…proving what is acceptable to the Lord… that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world" (Ephesians 5:8, 10 and Philippians 2:15).

In Jesus' life, this godly progress was accomplished by the grace of God at work: "and the grace of God was upon Him." So it is to be in our lives.

O God of all grace, work in my life, as You did with Your Son, Jesus. Strengthen me spiritually and fill me with Your wisdom. Deepen my walk with You and increase the spiritual impact that I have on others, for Your pleasure and glory, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - November 27

The Suffering that Prepares Us for Grace

But may the God of all grace…after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. (1 Peter 5:10)

In our previous meditation, we saw that "the God of all grace" wants to develop our lives spiritually. He wants to use His exceedingly abundant grace to "perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle" us. Now, we will examine the useful (though often undesired) suffering that prepares us for this work of grace.

Yes, suffering is often the link between the work God wants to do in us and the abundant grace that He will use to effect the work: "after you have suffered a while." Even as the perfect, sinless man, the Son of God learned valuable lessons through suffering. "Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered" (Hebrews 5:8). He experienced the agonies that may occur as we obey God while dwelling in a rebellious, sinful world. He is the full example of godliness, and we are called to follow Him. "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps" (1 Peter 2:21). If we are willing to walk the path of godliness, we will suffer as well. "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12). Such trials and sufferings are normal and purposeful. "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you" (1 Peter 4:12). Painful trials seem strange, but they routinely come to test and exercise our faith.

God gives grace to the humble. Trials and suffering humble our hearts and stir us to cry out to the Lord for His necessary grace. This direct link between suffering and grace can be seen in Paul's most persistent trial of suffering. "Lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me…Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me" (2 Corinthians 12:7-8). Paul's difficulty moved him to earnestly plead with the Lord for His intervention. The Lord responded by His grace. "And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul did not receive the healing grace that he sought. However, he experienced the sustaining grace that God often chooses to impart in times of suffering. Through His grace, God changed Paul's heart, not his circumstances.

O God of all grace, make me willing to endure the suffering that is necessary to prepare my heart for the transforming work of Your grace. Also, during sufferings and trials, please remind me of the work You are doing, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - November 26

The God of All Grace Developing Our Lives

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus…perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. (1 Peter 5:10)

We have been considering God's grace as "much more" (Romans 5:17, 20), as "exceeding" (2 Corinthians 9:14), and as "exceedingly abundant" (1 Timothy 1:14). These terms lead into our present meditation, which looks at "the God of all grace." The true and living God has all kinds and all measures of grace, and He wants to impart that grace to develop our lives.

One purpose of God's grace is to allow us to dwell forever in His glorious abode: "who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus." This is ours through the atoning death of Jesus Christ, our mediator. "He is the Mediator of the new covenant [of grace], by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant [of law], that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance" (Hebrews 9:15). Meanwhile, until He returns for us, He wants to develop us spiritually ("perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you").

Part of His plan is to perfect our lives. "May the God of all grace …perfect…you." This speaks of God completing what is missing and equipping us for service. "Now may the God of peace…make you complete in every good work to do His will…And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry" (Hebrews 13:20-21 and Ephesians 4:12). Part of His plan is to establish our lives. "May the God of all grace… establish…you." This has to do with the Lord stabilizing our Christian walk, keeping us steadfastly moving in His direction for our lives. This word was used to describe Jesus' unswerving commitment toward the cross, resurrection, and ascension that awaited Him in Jerusalem. "Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51). Part of His plan is to strengthen our lives. "May the God of all grace… strengthen…you." Our calling to serve God requires strength that we do not have in and of ourselves. The Lord wants to teach us to draw upon His mighty power: "that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man" (Ephesians 3:16). Part of His plan is to settle our lives. "May the God of all grace… settle…you." This involves being increasingly grounded in God's ways: "that you, being rooted and grounded in love" (Ephesians 3:17).

Dear God of all grace, I am eager to be with You in glory above. Meanwhile, I humbly beseech You to develop my life spiritually. Please complete what is missing, stabilize my walk, empower me within, and ground me in Your love—all by Your grace, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - November 25

Lives Drawn by the Exceeding Grace of God

They glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. (2 Corinthians 9:13-14)

The church at Corinth became a vivid illustration of what the grace of God can do in lives. God's grace was so mightily at work among them that believers in other parts of the church world were drawn by the exceeding grace of God: "who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you."

Paul's first letter to the Corinthians confronted their various problems. His second letter showed how they were responding to the convicting and transforming work of the Spirit of God. As the church at Corinth was growing in godliness, they were becoming a generous body of believers. They were learning to share with liberality that which the Lord had given to them. Such generosity was being exemplified to them by other churches in the region of Macedonia. "Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality" (2 Corinthians 8:1-2). While the churches in Macedonia were burdened for the needy churches in Judea, they themselves were very needy ("in a great trial of affliction…their deep poverty"). The explanation for this burden of compassion in Macedonia was the grace of God at work. "We make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia." God's grace was stirring in them a concern for others and a willingness to share their limited material resources.

A similar work of God was occurring in Corinth, and it was impacting the saints in regions beyond. As other Christians looked at God's grace operating in Corinth, they gave glory to God for their generosity. "They glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men." As they prayed for the saints at Corinth, their hearts were drawn after them in great yearning: "by their prayer for you, who long for you." When the grace of God is allowed to work deeply within followers of Jesus Christ, others develop a yearning to pray for them, to be with them, to communicate with them. They want to be impacted by the exceeding grace of God that has changed and enriched their lives.

Dear Lord of exceeding grace, I thank You for generously sharing the riches of Your grace with me. By Your grace, give me a generous heart towards others. Also, please flood my life with such fullness of grace that others will be drawn to learn more of Your exceeding grace, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - November 24

More on Exceedingly Abundant Grace for Transformation

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man…And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant. (1 Timothy 1:12-14)

By His bountiful grace, Jesus Christ transformed Saul of Tarsus into the Apostle Paul. The Lord did this by enabling Paul, making him a man of faith, and putting him into ministry. As we consider what Paul was before the Lord began to change his life, we will see even more on exceedingly abundant grace for transformation.

Before he became a follower of Jesus Christ, Paul engaged in blasphemous behavior. "I was formerly a blasphemer." Through uninformed religious zeal, he said and did much that insulted and opposed the Lord. "Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 26:9). Part of his sin of blasphemy included trying to force Christians to speak evil of the Lord. "And I punished them often… and compelled them to blaspheme" (Acts 26:11).

Related to this, Paul severely persecuted believers in Jesus Christ before he came to salvation. "I was formerly…a persecutor." He aggressively searched out anyone he could find who followed Jesus, hoping to imprison them. "As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison" (Acts 8:3). He was so enraged against the followers of Jesus that he even obtained authorization to pursue them into distant cities beyond Israel. "Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem" (Acts 9:1-2).

In light of such brazen aggression, it is no surprise that Paul confesses to being an arrogant man before he was saved. "I was formerly…an insolent man." His religious success clearly led him to a prideful estimation of his own spirituality. "If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless" (Philippians 3:4-6).

Nevertheless, all of this misguided religiosity could be transformed by God's bountiful grace. "And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant."

Lord Jesus, what marvelous grace this is! What encouraging words these are! Yes, I see that my own disqualifying failures can be turned around by Your exceedingly abundant grace! Transform me Lord, I humbly pray!

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Day By Day By Grace - November 23

More on Exceedingly Abundant Grace for Transformation

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man…And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant. (1 Timothy 1:12-14)

By His bountiful grace, Jesus Christ transformed Saul of Tarsus into the Apostle Paul. The Lord did this by enabling Paul, making him a man of faith, and putting him into ministry. As we consider what Paul was before the Lord began to change his life, we will see even more on exceedingly abundant grace for transformation.

Before he became a follower of Jesus Christ, Paul engaged in blasphemous behavior. "I was formerly a blasphemer." Through uninformed religious zeal, he said and did much that insulted and opposed the Lord. "Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 26:9). Part of his sin of blasphemy included trying to force Christians to speak evil of the Lord. "And I punished them often… and compelled them to blaspheme" (Acts 26:11).

Related to this, Paul severely persecuted believers in Jesus Christ before he came to salvation. "I was formerly…a persecutor." He aggressively searched out anyone he could find who followed Jesus, hoping to imprison them. "As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison" (Acts 8:3). He was so enraged against the followers of Jesus that he even obtained authorization to pursue them into distant cities beyond Israel. "Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem" (Acts 9:1-2).

In light of such brazen aggression, it is no surprise that Paul confesses to being an arrogant man before he was saved. "I was formerly…an insolent man." His religious success clearly led him to a prideful estimation of his own spirituality. "If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless" (Philippians 3:4-6).

Nevertheless, all of this misguided religiosity could be transformed by God's bountiful grace. "And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant."

Lord Jesus, what marvelous grace this is! What encouraging words these are! Yes, I see that my own disqualifying failures can be turned around by Your exceedingly abundant grace! Transform me Lord, I humbly pray!

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Day By Day By Grace - November 22

Exceedingly Abundant Grace for Transformation

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry…And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant. (1 Timothy 1:12, 14)

The grace of God is "much more" than our sin and our failure. It is "much more" than our personal inadequacy. It is "much more" than our comprehension of it. God's grace is "much more" than necessary to radically change our lives. In the limitless resources of God, there is exceedingly abundant grace for transformation. The Apostle Paul is a distinctive example of this transforming grace of God. The Lord took him from religious enmity into spiritual service.

Paul was grateful for this work of grace. "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry." God is the one who puts us into ministry. Consequently, for every arena of service we are given, it is appropriate to express thanksgiving to God. Paul knew his ministry was anchored in God's will, not man's. "Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father…)" (Galatians 1:1). Certainly, man can recognize and confirm our callings from God. "When James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles" (Galatians 2:9). Still, our appointment is from the Lord: "to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles" (2 Timothy 1:11). Unlike many of us, Paul was told of his calling at the very beginning of his walk with the Lord. "Rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you" (Acts 26:16). Such calling to service becomes a stewardship from, and unto, the Lord: "of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God…if indeed you have heard of the dispensation [same term, stewardship] of the grace of God which was given to me for you" (Colossians 1:25 and Ephesians 3:2).

To put Paul into effective ministry, God Himself had to do the necessary strengthening work in making him a man of faith. "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful." God's grace is the bountiful resource that brings about such transformation for ministry. "And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant."

Lord, I know Your word teaches that all of Your children are called to serve You. Work by Your grace in my heart, enabling me, building my faith, and confirming my calling. I want to be a faithful steward of Your exceedingly abundant grace, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - November 21

Reigning in Life by the "Much More" Grace of God

For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17)

Man's problems are a result of his relationship with Adam, who fell in sin and rebellion. God's remedies are found in a new relationship with Jesus Christ. As we have seen, all of humanity begins life ruled by a tyrant dictator called death. "By the one man's offense death reigned through the one." However, when people become related to Jesus Christ through faith, they can learn to reign in life by the "much more" grace of God.

Notice again that God's remedy for those under the reign of death is two-fold: "those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life." Every Christian has received, and has been standing in, the gift of righteousness since the day they were justified by faith in the Lord. This is the only way that anyone can be accepted by a holy, righteous God. Yet, having this wonderful gift of imputed righteousness (credited to our account in heaven) does not automatically bring spiritual victory into the daily lives of God's justified saints. Many Christians, although possessing this gift of righteousness, do not walk in daily victory. The reason for this lack of victory is related to God's other provision, "abundance of grace."

Many Christians do not characteristically live by receiving God's grace. Many attempt to live victoriously by merely doing all that they can by their own human resources. Step by step, they hope to achieve victory through their best efforts. This always proves inadequate, because victory must be received from the Lord. "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57). "Give and receive" is the language of grace (which depends upon the work of God). "Earn and achieve" is the language of law (which depends upon the work of man).

Jesus, filled with overflowing grace, came to man's rescue. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Now, for those forgiven by grace, there is a victorious life to be lived by humble dependence upon the "abundance of God's grace." This is available to us through our new relationship with the Lord. "Much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ."

Father God, I see that Your grace is the resource for living as a Christlike overcomer, reigning in life. Lord, I humble myself before You, admitting my need for Your grace. I reach out to You in faith, praising You that there is abundance of grace available for such victorious living!

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Day By Day By Grace - November 20

Reigning in Life by the "Much More" Grace of God

For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17)

Man's problems are a result of his relationship with Adam, who fell in sin and rebellion. God's remedies are found in a new relationship with Jesus Christ. As we have seen, all of humanity begins life ruled by a tyrant dictator called death. "By the one man's offense death reigned through the one." However, when people become related to Jesus Christ through faith, they can learn to reign in life by the "much more" grace of God.

Notice again that God's remedy for those under the reign of death is two-fold: "those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life." Every Christian has received, and has been standing in, the gift of righteousness since the day they were justified by faith in the Lord. This is the only way that anyone can be accepted by a holy, righteous God. Yet, having this wonderful gift of imputed righteousness (credited to our account in heaven) does not automatically bring spiritual victory into the daily lives of God's justified saints. Many Christians, although possessing this gift of righteousness, do not walk in daily victory. The reason for this lack of victory is related to God's other provision, "abundance of grace."

Many Christians do not characteristically live by receiving God's grace. Many attempt to live victoriously by merely doing all that they can by their own human resources. Step by step, they hope to achieve victory through their best efforts. This always proves inadequate, because victory must be received from the Lord. "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57). "Give and receive" is the language of grace (which depends upon the work of God). "Earn and achieve" is the language of law (which depends upon the work of man).

Jesus, filled with overflowing grace, came to man's rescue. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Now, for those forgiven by grace, there is a victorious life to be lived by humble dependence upon the "abundance of God's grace." This is available to us through our new relationship with the Lord. "Much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ."

Father God, I see that Your grace is the resource for living as a Christlike overcomer, reigning in life. Lord, I humble myself before You, admitting my need for Your grace. I reach out to You in faith, praising You that there is abundance of grace available for such victorious living!

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Day By Day By Grace - November 19

The "Much More" Grace of God

For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17)

The grace of God here is connected with the phrase "much more." What a grand description of His grace-the "much more" grace of God! God's grace is "much more" than forgiveness. It is "much more" than new birth. It is "much more" than we have yet understood. It is "much more" than we have ever yet experienced. Here, we see it is "much more" than sufficient to deal with the devastating effects of sin in the lives of the children of Adam.

Due to sin, humankind begins its existence separated from the Lord. We all began "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). Additionally, each person's individual experience can be decimated by the effects of sin. Selfishness, dishonesty, brutality, fear, disloyalty, deception, and the like, can leave individuals in miserable bondage and paralyzing defeat. These devastations come from being under the rule of death: "For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one." When Adam fell into sin and rebellion, the enemy of men's souls gained authority over Adam and his seed. This cruel dictator rules over everyone who is related to Adam through natural birth (and not yet related to Jesus by new birth). Elsewhere, Jesus described the sole intention of our enemy's interest in us. "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy" (John 10:10a).

God's remedy for escaping the reign of death is two-fold: "those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ." First, the "gift of righteousness" provides an acceptable standing in heaven before a holy, righteous God. "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed…even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe" (Romans 3:21-22). Second, "abundance of grace" provides the continual spiritual resources that are necessary for the development of a godly, victorious walk for the glory of God in the midst of humanity here on earth. Both of these wondrous provisions ("abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness") are ours because of the relationship we have by faith with Jesus Christ: "through the One, Jesus Christ."

Heavenly Father, I realize that Your grace is much more than I have yet understood or experienced. I also see that it is much more than sufficient to reverse the effects of sin that may have impacted my life. So, I humbly reach out to You to receive from Your abundance of grace, that I might walk more victoriously, through Christ, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - November 18

God Fulfilling the Work of Faith with Power

Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)

These verses provide another opportunity to reflect upon the central point in our last sequence of devotions (from Hebrews). Therein, we examined the extensive consequences of walking by faith (and thereby drawing upon the effective grace of God). The good things that appeared in these lives were the result of God fulfilling the work of faith with power.

The opening words remind us of the need for intercessory prayer for one another. "Therefore we also pray always for you." The following terms remind us of what to pray about: "that our God would count you worthy of this calling." God counts us worthy to be His children and His servants on the basis of faith, not performance: "not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith" (Philippians 3:9). The following words from our present text also indicate that true faith in the Lord results in proper performance: "and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power." God wants to develop in us the good things that His own goodness desires for us. Of course, He desires godliness for us. He accomplishes this by "the work of faith with power."

When we trust in the Lord, the glorious works of God are manifested in and through our lives "with power." The power involved in this process is His power. "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily" (Ephesians 3:20 and Colossians 1:29). This is the process that is vividly portrayed in the lives we have looked at in Hebrews. They trusted in God: "By faith Noah…By faith Abraham…By faith Sarah" (Hebrews 11:7, 8, 11). The God upon whom they relied worked mightily in them, by means of His great grace: "according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." Our God wants to fulfill the work of faith with power in our lives-"according to the grace of our God." This is what brings glory to the Lord on earth, while reminding us that we will enter into His glory some day in heaven: "that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him."

Lord God of great power, please fulfill in me the work of faith with power. As I look to You for the grace that is needed for godly living, glorify Your name through my life. I eagerly await dwelling forever with You in the glories of heaven above, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - November 17

Reflecting on the Extensive Consequences of Walking by Faith

By faith Noah…By faith Abraham…By faith Sarah…By faith Moses…By faith the harlot Rahab…David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith…And others…Still others…all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith. (Hebrews 11:7, 8, 11, 24, 31, 32-33, 35, 36, 39)

God wants us to live by His grace. "Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). Therefore, we must walk by faith, since faith accesses grace. "Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Romans 5:2). In a series of meditations, we have been considering the extensive consequences of walking by faith (and thereby drawing upon the effective grace of God). Reflecting upon the broad and diverse dimensions of these consequences brings encouragement and edification.

"By faith Noah" undertook an amazing task (building an ark) to prepare for an event never before experienced (a worldwide flood). "By faith Abraham" obediently left his familiar homeland for an uncertain destination. He also counted on God to do all the great things He had promised (including, blessing all nations through him). "By faith Sarah," miraculously (in her old age) bore a son for the fulfillment of God's plan. Later, by faith, Abraham laid the promised son upon the altar of God. All along the way, he lived as a pilgrim journeying toward an eternal, heavenly home.

"By faith Moses" forsook the privileges and pleasures of the world to lead God's people out of bondage. "By faith the harlot Rahab" helped the Israelites, identified with the true and living God, and was rescued from judgment. "David and Samuel and the prophets" (and others like them) "through faith" conquered nations, grew in godliness, experienced God's fulfilled promises, survived the den of lions, withstood the fiery furnace, were spared death by the sword, experienced God's strength in weakness, found courage on the battlefield, caused enemy armies to flee, and received resurrected loved ones.

"And others" (also by faith) endured tortures. "Still others" experienced mockings, beatings, bonds, prisons, stonings, severings, painful enticements, deprivations, impoverishments, general tribulations, and cruel torments. "All these…obtained a good testimony through faith."

Through these testimonies, God is showing us the limitless extent that His grace can work in our lives. Through these examples the Lord is encouraging us to trust Him to work comprehensively for us, as He has faithfully done for others.

Lord God of all Grace, my heart is stirred as I consider the great extent to which Your grace can work in lives that humbly trust in You. Father, I ask You to make of my life a growing testimony of Your abounding grace, through Jesus Christ, my Lord, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - November 16

"Unusual" Consequences of Accessing Grace through Faith

Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented. (Hebrews 11:36-37)

Very often, when people are trusting in the Lord to work by His grace, they anticipate many delightful workings of God (such as we have seen in the testimonies of Hebrews 11). These saints "subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens" (Hebrews 11:33-34). Yet, others experienced what might be called "unusual" consequences of accessing grace through faith. They had to trust in the Lord when the aforementioned blessings did not occur. They had to trust God to sustain them in and through great difficulties of life.

Some had to endure by faith "trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment." Jeremiah exemplifies these. "O LORD…I am in derision daily; everyone mocks me…Therefore the princes were angry with Jeremiah, and they struck him and put him in prison" (Jeremiah 20:7; 37:15). Some "were stoned." Zechariah was killed in this fashion when he gave warnings from the Lord. "So they conspired against him, and…stoned him with stones" (2 Chronicles 24:21). Some "were sawn in two." Tradition tells us that Isaiah died in this vicious manner. Some "were tempted." In the midst of their sufferings, they were further pained by enticements to ungodly responses. Job endured this through bad counsel from his own wife. "Do you still hold to your integrity? Curse God and die!" (Job 2:9). Some "were slain with the sword." King Saul ordered godly priests to be executed this way, because they were loyal to David: " '…kill the priests!' So Doeg the Edomite…killed on that day eighty-five men…." (1 Samuel 22:18). Others "wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented." By faith, these saints had to endure homelessness, poverty, distress, and harassment.

These servants of the Lord (who are all examples of living by faith!) are a reminder to us that our trials, sufferings, and anguishing impossibilities do not necessarily mean we are failing to trust God. These challenges often mean that we are being given an opportunity to humbly, dependently, draw upon the grace of God in ways that we need to experience or others need to observe.

Lord God of the "unusual" blessing, please give me the wisdom to discern and the grace to endure when Your answer to my prayer is to allow a mocking, a verbal stoning, an affliction, or a season of lack, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - November 15

Contrasting Consequences of Accessing Grace through Faith

Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. (Hebrews 11:35)

This verse serves as a transition from enjoyed blessings to endured difficulties. Both were experienced by depending upon the Lord. Herein, we see contrasting consequences of accessing grace through faith. The blessings we may anticipate. The difficulties may seem to us "unusual."

Even the blessing of resurrected loved ones is not surprising to be found in the history of God's people, since we serve a God of resurrection power. Elijah understood this. Consequently, he did not balk when he knew that the Lord wanted him to be an instrument of resurrection. This miracle of God's grace would occur in the home of a widow who was supplying food for the prophet. "The son of the woman who owned the house became sick. And his sickness was so serious that there was no breath left in him" (1 Kings 17:17). This faithful widow was distressed and perplexed. "So she said to Elijah, 'What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?'" (1 King 17:18). In most situations, prayer would have been appropriately offered for the strength and comfort of the remaining family. However, Elijah was led to cry out to the Lord for the boy. "O LORD my God, I pray, let this child's soul come back to him" (1 Kings 17:21). The Lord confirmed that this was His will by raising the deceased son. "Then the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived" (1 Kings 17:22).

This miraculous blessing was brought forth by faith in God. Yet, faith in the Lord does not always result in such temporal blessings, as the contrasting conclusion to our verse documents. "And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection." Living by faith is the general context of this chapter ("By faith…By faith…By faith"-Hebrews 11:3, 4, 5). It is also the immediate context of our verse ("who through faith"-Hebrews 11:33). These "others [who] were tortured" were also living by faith. Their faith in God would work for them an eternal blessing, to be enjoyed at the final resurrection of the righteous.

We can embrace this same outlook. "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). Meanwhile, we can be learning to live by resurrection power: "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection" (Philippians 3:10).

Lord God of Resurrection, I cry out to You to revive the dead or dying areas of my own life. I also look to You for the sustaining strength I need in times of suffering. Teach me to live daily by the power of Your resurrection, Amen.

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