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4/2/15 6:18 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - April 2

Every Spiritual Blessing Ours in Christ

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

Living day by day by grace is essentially about developing an intimate relationship with the Lord. "You also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead" (Romans 7:4). We have considered some of the radical extent of that intimacy through the intriguing phrase "in Christ." "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:13). Through this profound uniting with Christ, astounding spiritual riches are now ours.

This is why Paul offered grateful praise to the Lord. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Paul's thanksgiving was for what the Father has given to us: "who has blessed us." Notice, the verb is in the past tense-this has already happened. What is it that has already been given to us? It is "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places." Think of it. This truth is staggering in its implications. Every grace resource that heaven has to offer is already ours here on earth. This does not mean that we are fully aware of all that has been given to us. Certainly, it does not mean that we are experiencing all of these blessings. Yet, it does mean that they are all ours to draw upon for fullness of life here on earth!

The reason these rich blessings are ours is that they all reside in Christ. In Christ is forgiveness, righteousness, and wisdom. Also, love, joy, and peace are found in Him. In Christ dwells victory, discernment, and courage. Moreover, compassion, strength, and perseverance are part of who He is. All this and far more is found in Christ. "For it pleased the Father that in Him [in Christ] all the fullness should dwell" (Colossians 1:19). Now, we dwell in the place ("in Christ") where all of this richness resides: "who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." All these spiritual resources of the kingdom of heaven are now ours "in Christ." "And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for [upon] grace" (John 1:16).

Dear Father, I too want to bless You for bestowing all of this richness upon me. Lord, forgive me for the spiritual poverty that I too often experience. Teach me to draw upon these limitless treasures of Your grace. I want to honor You with an abundant walk in Christ's fullness, Amen

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4/1/15 8:22 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - April 1

New Creatures in Christ

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Everyone who is "in Christ," through faith in His name, is a "new creation." We are new people. We are no longer who we were before we put our trust in the Lord Jesus. We are not the "old man" reformed or improved, we are a "new creation." Yes, we have the same bodies, but they are mere tents in which we dwell. "For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Corinthians 5:1). Some day in glory, we will trade these temporal, earthly tents for eternal heavenly ones. Meanwhile, though we live in the same old tents we had in Adam, we are new tenants, a "new creation." We may have the same old physical brain, but we are learning to think an entirely new way. "We have the mind of Christ… be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2 and 1 Corinthians 2:16). Christ lives in us, and His Spirit also dwells in us. His Spirit takes the word of God and unfolds the thinking of our Lord for us. As we embrace God's way of thinking more and more, we are transformed to walk in the newness that is ours in "in Christ."

In all the ways that matter before God, "old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." The old guilt is replaced by new forgiveness. "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…in whom we have…the forgiveness of sins" (Romans 8:1 and Colossians 1:14).

The old foolishness is replaced by new wisdom. "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God…But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God" (1 Corinthians 3:19 and 1:30). The old unrighteousness is replaced with new righteousness. "All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags…For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (Isaiah 64:6 and 2 Corinthians 5:21). The old hope of changing (self-help) is replaced by new hope of changing (sanctification, God changing us). "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength…You are in Christ Jesus, who became for us…sanctification" (Jeremiah 17:5 and 1 Corinthians 1:30). This is grace upon grace.

O Lord, my hope, I thank You for making me a new person in Christ. Please strengthen my heart to spend time in Your word that I might hear more of these grand truths. Lord, I yearn to walk in more of this rich newness of life, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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3/31/15 6:08 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 31

In Christ, a New Creation

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. (Galatians 6:15)

In the relationship we have with the Lord through the new covenant of grace, there is intimacy, fullness of life, spiritual victory, and so much more. These blessings (not available to those who are related to Adam) are aspects of the new life that comes to new creatures "in Christ."

"In Christ," everything is so different from how it was "in Adam." The family of man, having only natural life from Adam, puts great significance in human heritage or personal inclinations. Whether a person is a Jew or a Gentile can be of enormous consequence to many among the unredeemed community. Whether a person is religiously inclined or secularly motivated avails much with many unsaved people. On the other hand, those who have been brought into union with Christ can learn that God's perspective on such matters is vastly different. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything."

In the kingdom of heaven, these distinctives among the sons of Adam mean nothing. Human differences do not cause the work of God or the will of God to be advanced or prevented. They avail nothing. What matters for all who are "in Christ Jesus" is not a "human category," "but a new creation."

When we come to know Christ by grace through faith, He gives us new birth. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again" (1 Peter 1:3). We are created anew. We become a new spiritual being before the Lord. We have "put on the new man" (Colossians 3:10). In this heavenly kingdom of new men and women, "there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all" (Colossians 3:11). All that ultimately matters is that the Lord Jesus Christ dwells in all of His people, and He wants to be all that they will ever need. All that matters is that the Spirit of Christ is the living water that we have begun to partake of and that He makes us one. "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free-and have all been made to drink into one Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:13). Any person in any human category who will cry out to the Lord in faith can experience this richness. "For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him" (Romans 10:12).

Dear Lord, giver of new life, my heart celebrates the wondrous fact that I am a new creation in Christ. I am delighted that my old human categories could not prevent Your work of grace toward me. I praise You for the richness of Your grace, Amen.

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3/30/15 7:34 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 30

Reigning in Life through Christ

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 Lord wants us to grow in the magnificent blessing of living victoriously through Him. Having a triumphant Christian walk can only be realized from a developing acquaintanceship with the Lord, because we are only able to "reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ."

Significant spiritual issues are set against a victorious life: "By the one man's offense death reigned through the one." Because of Adam's sin, spiritual deadness rules over the family of man. The enemy of men's souls uses this deadness to dominate and destroy lives. Elsewhere, Jesus likened him to a thief. "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy" (John 10:10). This is why lives, households, and nations experience such deadly defeats and crushing failures. A tyrant dictator, "death," dominates all lives that are only born once in Adam. They can only draw upon Adam's fallen, sinful, inadequate life source.

A new and greater resource is needed and is found in Christ. "Much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ." These heavenly provisions are "much more" than is needed to replace the defeats of Adam with the victories of Christ. The resources are two-fold: "abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness."

One of these two is possessed by every believer in Christ: "the gift of righteousness." This is the righteousness of the Lord Jesus, given to us by faith. That allows us to stand accepted before a holy God: "found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith" (Philippians 3:9). Every believer has this gift, but not every believer is victorious. Thus, the key variable is to be receiving "abundance of grace." Every Christian has been the recipient of grace. Yet, many of God's people do not live day by day by grace. They walk according to the flesh, thereby drawing upon Adam's natural bankrupt resources.

Remember, living by grace involves humility and faith. God "gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). Likewise, through Jesus, "we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Romans 5:2).

Lord God of grace, the reign of death has certainly assailed my life, bringing defeat and failure. Teach me to draw upon the abundant measures of Your grace, that I might reign in life, living victoriously, through Your Son, Christ Jesus, Amen.

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3/29/15 7:21 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 29

Death in Adam or Life in Christ

For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:21-22)

The new covenant of grace is a covenant of relationship. Spiritual death through Adam made this covenant of grace necessary. Spiritual life through Christ makes intimacy with God possible. Every human who has ever existed inherited a sinful, fallen, earthly life from Adam: "by man came death." Every person who has ever put their faith in Christ has received from Him a righteous, risen, heavenly life: "by Man [that is, Jesus] also came the resurrection of the dead."

Adam began with a measure of intimacy with his Creator. "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being…Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it" (Genesis 2:7, 15). In the garden, Adam served the Lord and had fellowship with Him, when He would walk "in the garden in the cool of the day" (Genesis 3:8).

Adam could partake freely of all that was in the garden, except for one tree. "Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (Genesis 2:17). For Adam, as for all of his race, "the wages of sin [was] death" (Romans 6:23). The day that Adam and Eve disobeyed and ate of the forbidden fruit, they died spiritually. "And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden" (Genesis 3:8). Whereas they had enjoyed a degree of intimacy with the Lord, they now fled from His presence. Ever after, the natural children of Adam would begin their existence "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1).

The only remedy for the spiritually dead human family would be a relationship with a new "family head." "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many" (Romans 5:12, 15). There are only two families to which human beings can belong: Adam's or Christ's. There are only two family heads to which anyone can be related: Adam or Christ. Adam passed along spiritual death to his offspring. Christ gives to His family life eternal, life abundant-all by His glorious grace.

Creator God, my Father, I confess that I was born in Adam's sinful line. I have demonstrated my sinfulness on a multitude of occasions. I praise You for sending Your Son to rescue me from Adam's race and to place me in Christ, my new Head, Amen.

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3/28/15 7:54 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 28

Intimacy of Relationship in Christ

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13)

We have been considering that the new covenant of grace is a covenant of relationship. The simple phrase "in Christ" indicates the extent of the intimacy that is available by grace. "In Christ" is where we live spiritually. It is also how we live. As surely as a fish is in the ocean and lives on the resources of the ocean, we are "in Christ" and live on the resources of Christ. As surely as an unborn child is in the mother and lives on the life of the mother, we are "in Christ" and live on the life of Christ.

We who believe in Jesus are not only "brought near by the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:13), we are joined to Him in a "united closeness," like a body is to its head. "He is the head of the body, the church" (Colossians 1:18). We can relate to the Lord Jesus more closely than the members of our physical body relate to our physical head. We can look to Jesus for direction and coordination. We can depend upon Him for planning, guiding, and timing in our entire lives. We can anticipate that He will monitor, maintain, and adjust our situations.

This union of intimacy is also like a vine and its branches. "I am the vine, you are the branches" (John 15:5). We can look to Christ for our very life source. We don't have to produce a life on our own. We can concentrate on abiding in (depending on) Him. He makes our lives fruitful and effective.

The intimate relationship the Lord wants to develop with us is also likened to the joining of a husband and a wife. "You also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead" (Romans 7:4). We can count upon Jesus to love us faithfully and sacrificially. We can rest in His constant companionship, never leaving us for any reason throughout our pilgrimage here on earth.

What blessings are ours for time and eternity "in Christ." Joined intimately to Christ, nothing can separate us from the love and kindness that He has for us: "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord…that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:38-39 and Ephesians 2:7).

Lord Jesus, I am overwhelmed by the intimacy that is available to me, now that I am united to You. Lord, I want to depend upon You as my vine, follow You as my head, and love You as my bridegroom. Lord, please continue to reveal to me the implications of being joined to You for all time and eternity, in Your holy name I pray, Amen.

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3/27/15 7:15 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 27

The New Covenant of Grace: A Covenant of Relationship

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace…But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 1:7; 2:13)

The ultimate blessing of the new covenant of grace is that it allows people to develop an intimate relationship with the true and living God. We began our personal history greatly separated from God: "you who once were far off." How could we ever comprehend the "vast relational distance" that our sins brought between us and the Lord? We could not relate to God. We could not talk to Him or enjoy His presence. We were "without Christ…having no hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12). Therefore, we were "alienated from the life of God" (Ephesians 4:18). Then, "according to the riches of His grace," we found "forgiveness of sins," as Jesus shed His blood unto death to pay the redemption price. "In Him we have redemption through His blood."

Now, the entire picture is drastically changed. "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." We are no longer alienated from God. "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19). We are now members of God's family. We are His beloved children. "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!'" (Galatians 4:6). By the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we cry out intimately to the Lord God as our "Heavenly Papa!" "You received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Romans 8:15-16). As we cry out "Abba," the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us, gives us a deep internal, spiritual confirmation that we truly are God's children.

Our heavenly Father wants to build a close relationship with us, His children. He wants us to know His love. "The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Romans 5:5). Also, God wants us to respond in love to Him. " We love Him because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). He wants us to call upon Him, that He might respond to us. "Call to Me, and I will answer you" (Jeremiah 33:3). He wants us to empty our heart unto Him. "Pour out your heart before Him" (Psalm 62:8). By God's grace, the way for intimacy is now open to us.

Dear Abba, Father, I thank You for washing away my sins. I praise You for bringing me close to You. I desire to grow in intimacy with You. Help me to see Your love more clearly, that I might respond in stronger love to You. Remind me to cry out to You consistently and to pour out my heart honestly, all by the blood of Christ, Amen.

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3/26/15 6:59 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 26

The Resurrection: Reality, Not Dead Religion

Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. (Acts 4:1-2)

The resurrection of Christ is the difference between a dead religion and a personal relationship. Living by resurrection power is the difference between earthly striving and heavenly reality. These differences can be seen in the contrast between the religious authorities of Israel and the disciples of Jesus.

The disciples were proclaiming to the people the wondrous message of the risen Lord Jesus. "They taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead." Such a message infuriated the religious leaders. "The priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed." Today, many religious leaders reflect a similar response. In the popular religious world, universalism and skepticism prevail. Each religion is viewed as one more road leading to God. For many, the miraculous is unacceptable, as human reasoning reigns supreme. In many religious circles, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is either an object of scoffing or an area of hypocritical compromise.

The Sadducees of old were like this. They would talk about the resurrection, even asking Jesus questions that seemed to affirm that God could raise people from the dead. "Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her" (Matthew 22:28). This question followed their scenario in which seven brothers would become the husband of the same woman, through seven death and marriage sequences. What a mockery this question represented. First, it was given in hypocrisy. "The Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him" (Matthew 22:23). Second, they were unaware of what the Scriptures said about such a heavenly matter. "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage" (verse 30). Jesus explained that these religious rationalists made two great errors in their approach. "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God" (verse 29).

We who have been born again by faith in the risen Lord Jesus can err in a similar fashion in our day by day living. We can talk about the resurrection of Jesus, but behave as though it were not an actual reality for Christian living. We can be mistaken, "not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God."

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your patience when I profess belief in the resurrection, but live by my inadequate human resources. Help me to understand what the Scriptures say about living daily in the power of the resurrection of Christ, Amen.

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3/25/15 7:41 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 25

Once More on the Resurrection and Sanctification

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us. (2 Corinthians 1:8-10)

Our passage speaks again of the Lord's resurrection power operating in our daily Christian lives, in the process of sanctification and spiritual growth. The setting in which the Lord did this resurrecting work was in the midst of trials while Paul and his team were serving God.

Paul did not want other believers to be unaware of his difficulties. "For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia." Too often, we are tempted to keep our struggles totally private. Thereby, we rob glory from God when He delivers us. Also, we keep others from learning important lessons that come from watching God fulfill the faithful promises of His word.

Paul's battles were severe on this occasion. "We were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves." Spiritually speaking, these trials were "killing" Paul and his missionary team. They were pressed down, overwhelmed, helpless, and hopeless. When we are in hopeless despair, our sufferings seem to be pointless. Yet, our difficulties (like Paul's) have this invaluable purpose built into them: "that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead." We have frequently noted that living by grace requires humility and faith. God gives grace to the humble, and faith accesses grace. Well, in the trials of life, God is working on developing these relational realities (spiritual realities that become real through a growing relationship with Jesus).

Trials and difficulties become occasions to be humbled before God. We are provoked to cry out to God in helplessness. Also, trials present new opportunities to trust in the Lord. When the trials are intense, God is purging us of the primary obstacle to trusting in God, and that is self-trust. "Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead." Thus, convinced that we cannot handle it, we call upon God, who faithfully resurrects us from our circumstantial death: "Who delivered us from so great a death." Thereby, faith grows, bringing assurance that He will continue to rescue us: "and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us."

O Lord, my Deliverer, come to my aid in the trials that bury me in despair. Show me where I am trusting in myself. Purge me of self-trust. I want to embrace humility and put my trust in You. Resurrect me, Lord, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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3/24/15 7:18 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 24

Still More on the Resurrection and Sanctification

That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)

As we are getting to know our God of resurrection (by learning about and then partaking of His resurrection power, Christ's sufferings, and conformity to His death), our lives are being changed. We are attaining to "the resurrection from the dead."

This phrase brings to mind the final resurrection of the redeemed in the last day. "When you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just" (Luke 14:13-14). Yet, the final resurrection cannot be in view in our meditation verses. The overall teaching of the Scriptures would lead to this conclusion. One's place in the final resurrection is determined by one's relationship to God. That issue is settled through exercising saving faith in Jesus Christ. Those who trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior have a part in the last resurrection, unto eternal life.

Furthermore, the immediate context of Paul's statement indicates that attaining to "the resurrection from the dead" was something he was reaching out for now, hoping to grow into it increasingly during this life. "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me" (Philippians 3:12). Paul confesses that he had not fully gained the type of resurrection about which he is writing. Yet, the final resurrection was already his expectation, through justifying faith in Jesus. So, Paul is pressing on for something else.

Earlier, the Apostle had revealed what He was seeking after. "I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ" (Philippians 3:8, 10). This is why Paul wrote, "that I may know Him." This was the one passion of his life. "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do" (Philippians 3:13). The one thing that Paul was aiming at was a growing acquaintanceship with his resurrected Lord. He desired to know his risen Lord so well that he might attain to "the resurrection from the dead." He wanted his developing relationship with the risen Christ to produce a resurrected lifestyle in him. He wanted to face each situation of life with a heavenly, resurrected perspective and attitude, a way of life completely different from the dead and dying world all around him.

Dear Jesus, my resurrected Lord, I praise You for providing for me a place in the final resurrection. Now, I pray, help me to get to know You better, that I might live a resurrected life day by day, in Your mighty name, Amen.

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3/23/15 9:26 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 23

Even More on the Resurrection and Sanctification

That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. (Philippians 3:10)

Paul's all-consuming passion was "that I may know Him." This verse does not list four matters for which Paul sought an acquaintanceship (a knowledge of God, resurrection power, a fellowship in Christ's sufferings, and conformity to His death). Rather, it points out one great quest (a knowledge of God) and three different arenas in which that knowledge could grow (resurrection power, a fellowship in Christ's sufferings, and conformity to His death). We saw in our last meditation how resurrection power and suffering can increase our knowing of the Lord. Now, we add another amazing aspect to a growing acquaintanceship with Jesus: "being conformed to His death."

There were some unique aspects to the death of Christ upon the cross (for example, His atonement for sins). However, there were other aspects of His death that God wants to repeat in our lives. As Jesus was placed upon the cross, it looked like defeat. It seemed to be the greatest wrong that man could ever do. Yet, God was working out His sovereign purposes. "Him, being delivered by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death" (Acts 2:23). At times, we are placed in situations that seem certain to lead to a deadly defeat. Yet, the Lord is unfolding His sovereign plan for us. In taking us through such impossibilities (and turning apparent defeat into victory), the Lord is allowing us to become more acquainted with Him and His ways.

When Jesus was dying, He hung helpless upon the tree. He entrusted Himself into the hands of His Father. "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit" (Luke 23:46). The Father would have to prove faithful, if Jesus were to come forth from the grave. "Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father" (Romans 6:4). At times, we are in circumstances that are personally crucifying. We are in situations where everything so obviously requires a mighty work of God. If He does not prove faithful on our behalf, there will be no way out of the agonizing dilemma. When our Lord is so clearly our only hope (and then He comes through faithfully), we again grow in a deeper knowledge of Him and His ways.

Dear Father of glory, help me to not shrink back in fear and doubt when You are conforming me to the death of Your Son. When everything looks like defeat and disaster, remind me to look to You to work out Your will, in spite of the evil intentions of foolish or godless people. When I am hanging helpless in the midst of crucifying circumstances, remind me to commit myself to You and Your great faithfulness. Lord, I want to know You more through any means You choose, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 22

More on the Resurrection and Sanctification

I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings. (Philippians 3:8, 10)

Sanctification is that process whereby the redeemed are increasingly set apart for the purposes, use, and glory of God. The resurrection of Christ and the power of that resurrection are interwoven into that entire process. Our present passage offers additional insight into this sublime truth.

The power of the resurrection is again in view. However, the context involves more than heavenly empowerment: "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection." The primary context is getting to know the Lord. "I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." Paul's passion was to know His Lord, to become more intimately acquainted with Him. He refers to this blessed goal as the greatest value available in all of creation. "I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ." Paul was ready to lose anything in order to gain more intimacy with the Lord. To him, such a knowing of Christ was "the excellence" (which could be translated, "the excelling value").

Our relationship with the Lord began in "the power of His resurrection." We were dead in our sins, and the Lord raised us to new life, as we believed upon Him. What a wonderful way to start out our acquaintanceship with God! A season of joy and gratitude accompanied this personal resurrection. His resurrection power gave us such a great appreciation of who our Lord actually is, a God of might and power.

As time marched along, we discovered that there are other ways to get to know our Lord more fully: namely, "the fellowship of His sufferings." Many of us who follow Christ were startled when, after believing in Jesus, we encountered some personal suffering. In our early joyous days with Jesus, we maybe assumed that trials would never come our way. Eventually, we began to suffer as Jesus did (for doing the right things, for righteousness sake). "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). How much deeper did our relationship with Him grow in those trials. We learned more of the difficult path He walked here on earth. We found out how faithful and compassionate He was when we called upon Him in our need. Once more, our love for Him grew.

Dear Lord of power and compassion, I magnify You for Your resurrection power. I extol You for Your matchless compassion. You have allowed me to experience these that I might grow in knowing You. Unleash Your power in my weakness. Pour out Your compassion in my sufferings. Let me know You more, through Christ I pray, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 21

The Resurrection and Sanctification

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)

Just as the resurrection had an essential role in our starting out with God (in justification), it also plays an irreplaceable part in our going on with God (in sanctification). In the new covenant of grace, the resurrection is involved from start to finish in the Christian life.

Our Scripture meditation is from one of the great prayers in all of the Bible. This portion begins by asking God to give us spiritual insight: "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened." What the Lord addresses in this prayer determines whether a believer will live by godly power or by human weakness. God desires to give us heavenly insight on this vital matter. Then, He intends for this spiritual enlightenment to lead us into a personal walk concerning this reality: "that you may know." The issue of this prayer is to become a part of our daily experience.

God wants us to experience the proper power source for living the Christian life: "that you may know…what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe." We who have been justified (declared righteous) through faith in Christ are not supposed to face each day by our meager, inadequate resources. We who have been born again by the Spirit of God are to live this new life by the power of God!

The aspect of God's power in view here is resurrection power: "according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead." Think of the mighty power of God that was at work to bring Jesus from a crucified Savior to a victorious risen Lord. This is the power that our God wants to unleash upon us day by day.

As great as this display of power was, even more is available to us: "and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places." This mighty divine power that brought forth Jesus from the dead, also raised Him to the right hand of the Father in the heavenly realm. Surely, this power is sufficient to lift us out of any deadening situation of our minds or our surroundings.

Dear God of resurrection power, too many days can pass by without me turning to You for this mighty power. Too often I have lived by a power that came from me—will power, emotional power, mental power. I repent for relying upon such feeble resources. Lord, by Your grace I see that heavenly resurrection power is to be my supply, so I look to You now for this work in me, in Your mighty name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 20

More on the Resurrection and Justification

[You were] buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses…He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses. (Colossians 2:12-13)

These truth-packed verses unfold the role of the resurrection as we started out with God through justification, when He declared us righteous in Christ. In this initial work of the Lord on our behalf, we were "buried with Him in baptism." Here, baptism is referring to our identification with Christ. When we first believed on the Lord Jesus, we were joined to Him, made one with Him, identified with Him. "We have been united together in the likeness of His death" (Romans 6:5). From God's perspective, we who trusted in Jesus Christ died on the cross with Him and were buried in the tomb with Him. Water baptism bears testimony to this truth. Identification with Christ makes this our spiritual history before God. In God's sight, our old life was crucified and buried.

Through faith in Christ and our identification with Him, we were also raised from the tomb with Jesus. "In which [that is, by identification] you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead." Just as His death became our death through identification, so also His resurrection became our resurrection. "For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection" (Romans 6:5). In God's sight, we were raised to a new life in Christ. "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism [that is, by identification] into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).

Colossians 2:13 offers another aspect of our need for a personal spiritual resurrection. "And you, being dead in your trespasses…He has made alive together with Him." Before we were justified through faith in Christ, we were not only guilty and condemned, we were spiritually dead. We had no true life in us. We could not relate to God or interact with Him. For us to start out with God in justification, the Lord had to raise us with Christ from our spiritual deadness.

O Glorious Lord, what a good reminder this is of the desperate condition I was in when You justified me. I was not merely needy; I was spiritually dead. I thank You for burying that old life with Jesus in His tomb. I praise You for raising me with Christ to a new life. I rejoice in the radical nature of Your saving grace. Lord, by the power of the resurrection, lead me in the reality of newness of life, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 19

The Resurrection and Justification

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)

We have a myriad of reasons to bless our great God, to speak of Him with grateful praises. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Our heavenly Father has mercifully showered us with so many blessings that we rightly desire Him to be honored and blessed. "For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You" (Psalm 86:5). Based on His great love, He sent His Son to pay for our debt of sin. Through faith in His name, we have received forgiveness and new life. Day by day He is present with us and is working in and through our lives. How blessed we are!

In the Scripture before us, God's merciful heart toward us is focused on a magnificent matter: "who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope." The Lord's mercy has provided a plan whereby He can righteously hold back the awful judgment that we rightly deserve. This plan of salvation offers new birth. God has "begotten us again." This could be rendered, "caused us to be born again." We all were begotten of our earthly parents, a birth that brings temporal human life. For all of us who believe in the Lord Jesus as our personal Savior, we have been given a new birth from God into everlasting spiritual life in Christ. This is one of the heavenly realities that relate to justification (being declared righteous in God's sight, and thereby able to begin a walk with God).

This new birth is also "to a living hope." When we were born into the Lord's family, real "hope" became available to us everafter. Biblical hope is about absolute certainties concerning the future. It is about guaranteed expectations for time and eternity. These are vital needs for every person. Otherwise, people flounder in hopelessness and despair, or they march along in vain fantasies and imaginations.

The unique hope the Lord provides for us is a "living hope." It is a hope that pulsates with resurrection life. "[God] has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." This hope is permeated with the Lord's resurrection. This resurrection hope is sufficient to raise us from any agonizing deadness, whether in our aching hearts or in our threatening circumstances.

Lord God of mercy, I praise You for Your abundant mercy toward me. I thank You for new birth. I am especially grateful for living hope. I now ask You to work in the dead aspects of my life. Lord, You know what areas of my heart are lifeless. You see the circumstances that are killing me. Raise my heart to new vitality. Lift me above circumstantial living, through the reality of the resurrection of Your Son, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 18

The Resurrection Related to Justification and Sanctification

"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die." (John 11:25-26)

It would be appropriate to again follow a pattern we have used previously, applying our present subject (the resurrection) both to our starting out with God (justification) and our going on with God (sanctification). The great value in doing such is to be repeatedly reminded that the grace of God that starts us out in this new life in Christ is the same grace that develops this life in Christ.

When Jesus proclaimed the words of our present verses, He was standing at the tomb of Lazarus. Martha, one of the sisters, was interacting with Him. She had hoped that Jesus would have arrived earlier, knowing He could have prevented this death. "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died" (John 11:21). Even now, with her brother in the tomb, she realizes He could yet intervene. "But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You" (verse 22). Jesus comforts her by assuring that Lazarus will be resurrected. "Your brother will rise again" (verse 23). Martha assumes that Jesus is referring to the final resurrection of the saints. "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day" (verse 24).

At this point, Jesus offers one of those glorious "I am" revelations. "I am the resurrection and the life." Then, He added two wonderful applications. First, faith in Him can even bring the dead to life, like Lazarus. "He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live." Second, faith in Him can ensure eternal life to those who are yet alive. "And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die."

Think again of the implications connected with Jesus' basic statement. "I am the resurrection and the life." Martha desired an immediate resurrection for her brother. She wanted him to live once again. Jesus revealed that He Himself was what Martha desired for her brother. He was "the resurrection and the life." Jesus provides resurrection and life, because in His very person He is resurrection life. He is the resurrection that we all need from our deadness, whether physical or spiritual. "I am the resurrection." He is the life that we need, if we are to live as God intended. "I am…the life." Knowing Christ by faith makes us partakers of what He Himself is: "the resurrection and the life." This is vital to see, because the Christian life is a resurrection life. Such a life can only be found in a resurrected Lord, and it can only be developed following a resurrected Lord.

Jesus, I bow down before You as my resurrected Lord. Apart from You, I would only know spiritual deadness as a fallen son of Adam. In You I have a spiritual resurrection to new life. Now I want to pursue You daily to see that new, resurrected life more fully developed in me. Lord Jesus, lead me, I pray, into more life, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 17

Resurrection Victory for Effective Christian Living

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:57-58)

The resurrection of Jesus Christ brings spiritual victory over sin and death to all who believe in Him. "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." As we allow the Lord to be our guide through each day, He "leads us in triumph in Christ" (2 Corinthians 2:14). When this process is unfolding, an effective Christian life is developing, by the grace of God at work in us.

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast." It is the will of God that our lives be marked by steadfastness (constancy and stability). Paul rejoiced concerning fellow believers who manifested such attributes: "rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ" (Colossians 2:5). He later added that they were to be "rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith" (verse 7).

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be… immovable." Our heavenly Father also wants us to be "immovable" (firmly persistent, unable to be swayed). Paul was a good example of this. Although he faced many threatening difficulties, he professed: "But none of these things move me" (Acts 20:24). When Paul wrote to the saints at Ephesus, he warned of another threat to spiritual persistency: "that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:14).

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be…always abounding in the work of the Lord." Our Lord wants us to be abundantly laboring with Him. This is one of of the purposes of Jesus' redemptive work for us: "Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works" (Titus 2:14). Yes, living by grace will produce abounding good works. The glorious fact is that such labors are actually the Lord at work in and through us: "always abounding in the work of the Lord." As the Lord sustains His work within us, we can grow in a certainty that this kind of laboring will be effective: "knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."

Note the key word that indicates the basis for all of these desirable traits: "Therefore." This refers back to the resurrection victory provided by the Lord Jesus. In light of this victorious work of Christ on our behalf, anyone trusting in this reality will find these spiritual virtues developing in their lives, by the grace of God at work.

Dear Lord, I long to walk in spiritual stability. I yearn for a life that cannot be swayed. I want to abundantly labor with You. Therefore, Lord, I place my confidence in the reality of Your resurrection victory. Work in me by Your grace, I pray, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 16

Resurrection Victory by the Grace of God

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:56-57)

1 Corinthians 15 is the great resurrection chapter of the Scriptures. In verse 56, we see two of the enormous problems that the resurrection of Jesus Christ overcomes. "The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law." The sting that brings physical and spiritual death to the family of man is sin. "For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). Adam sinned and immediately died spiritually. Eventually, he died physically. "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned" (Romans 5:12). We sinned in Adam, our leader. Also, we personally walked in sin and spiritual death until we came to Christ.

The strength that sin exerts over lives is the law. "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God" (Romans 3:19). There is no way that man by his own strength can remove the guilt of sin which God's law holds powerfully over him. The righteous power of the law holds sinful humanity fully accountable before the Lord.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ validates His sacrifice for sin, removing sin's sting. "O Death, where is your sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:55). Eternal life replaces sin's sting for all who believe in the Lord Jesus. "The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). Such victorious grace stirs gratitude in the hearts of the redeemed. "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Notice the language of grace used to describe that which is provided through the resurrection. "The gift of God is eternal life…thanks be to God, who gives us the victory." These two terms ("gift" and "gives") are the language of grace. Eternal life comes to us as a gift, an undeserved generosity from God. The victory that we receive through the resurrection is established through Jesus Christ. Then, this victory is given to us, not earned or achieved by us. Thereafter, our Lord desires to guide us daily in His resurrection victory of grace. "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ" (2 Corinthians 2:14).

O Righteous Father, I confess that I sinned against You, just as Adam did. Lord, I struggled under the spiritual deadness that sin brought. Your holy law, O God, rightly locked me under guilt and condemnation. I could do nothing myself to bring relief. Then, You gave me eternal life, as I trusted in Your Son. By Your grace, You gave me victory. Thank You! Thank You! Now, Lord, please lead me in that victory, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 15

The Resurrection Essential to the Gospel of Grace

And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is vain and your faith is also vain…And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins…But now Christ is risen from the dead. (1 Corinthians 15:14, 17, and 20)

The early church persistently proclaimed the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. This was not an option for them; neither is it an option for us. The grace of God that is available in the gospel for both justification and sanctification requires a risen Lord. The resurrection is essential to the gospel, which is the new covenant of grace.

The Spirit of God emphasized this strongly, as He inspired Paul to write: "And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is vain and your faith is also vain." If Jesus had not been raised from the dead, our preaching would be empty. If Christ were still in a tomb, His salvation mission ended in failure, not victory. Jesus is the object of our faith. If He is not alive, our trusting in Him would be fruitless. Jesus frequently taught about the necessity of His death and resurrection. "The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day" (Luke 9:22).

Furthermore, Paul wrote: "And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins." The gospel of forgiveness of sins includes the resurrection. "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). Faith is only as effective as its object. If our Lord is not resurrected, it is useless to place our confidence in Him. If we are trusting in a dead Savior to forgive us and set us free, we are still guilty and bound.

However, our Lord is not in an ancient tomb. "But now Christ is risen from the dead." He rose victorious over sin and death, bringing everlasting righteousness to all who believe. "It [faith] was accounted to him [Abraham] for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us [credited to our account] who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification" (Romans 4:22-25). Thus, all of the grace blessings of the resurrection are ours by faith. "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace" (Romans 4:16).

Dear Father, I rejoice in the resurrection victory of Jesus, my Lord! I praise You, Jesus, as my risen, living Savior. What a mighty salvation You have secured through Your victory over sin and death. Glory be to Your name for providing it all by grace through faith. Teach me to trust in You more and more, in Your holy name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 14

Grace-Empowered Proclamation of the Risen Christ

This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses…the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses…Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead…And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. (Acts 2:32; 3:15; 4:10, 33)

At the Lord's Supper, the resurrection was implied. "I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes" (Luke 22:18). At the tomb, the resurrection was documented. "He is not here, but is risen!" (Luke 24:6). With the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, the resurrection was proclaimed. "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, and put to death; whom God raised up" (Acts 2:23-24).

The risen Christ was the constant message of the early church. In Peter's Spirit-empowered message at Pentecost, he repeatedly proclaimed the resurrected Lord Jesus. "Him…you have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up

…You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption…he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ…this Jesus God raised up, of which we are all witnesses" (Acts 2:23-24, 27, 31-32).

Not long after this glorious beginning, another proclamation of the risen Christ occurred as the lame man was healed at the Beautiful Gate. When the crowds gathered to see what had happened, Peter's message was again centered around the resurrection of Jesus Christ. "You denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses" (Acts 3:14-15).

Soon after this, the religious leaders arrested the apostles, "being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead" (Acts 4:2). Here, Peter again proclaimed the resurrection. "By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole" (Acts 4:10).

It was the grace of God that empowered the church to witness boldly about 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" (Acts 4:33).

Dear Lord Jesus, I worship You as the risen One. I desire to proclaim Your resurrection to all who need to trust in You. Lord, in a world of doubt and skepticism, strengthen my faith in Your mighty resurrection. Empower me, I pray, by pouring out upon my life great measures of Your grace, in Your name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 13

The New Covenant of Grace: A Resurrection Covenant

"I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes…This cup is the new covenant in My blood." (Luke 22:18, 20)

Just as the new covenant of grace is a covenant of the Spirit; it is also a covenant of resurrection. When the grace of God is allowed to work in us, God applies the resurrection of Christ to our lives. This gracious work gives us access to the eternal life of our risen, triumphant, living Lord Jesus.

The Scriptures indicate in many ways that the resurrection is woven deeply into the fabric of living by grace. When Jesus was instituting the Lord's Supper (at His last Passover), He was but hours away from His impending death upon the cross. Yet, He indicated that He would again celebrate with them this memorial meal of salvation. "I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." This would only be possible by a subsequent resurrection. This reference to His resurrection was made in conjunction with remarks about the new covenant. "This cup is the new covenant in My blood." The resurrection is here linked with the new covenant of grace.

Soon after this statement regarding His resurrection, Jesus would be crucified. Three days later, the resurrection would be a reality. When some of the women came to the tomb with spices and oils, angelic beings announced the victorious truth. "He is not here, but is risen!" (Luke 24:6). The resurrection was forever an accomplished fact of history. The resurrection powerfully proved that Jesus was the Son of God: "Declared to be the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead." Jesus' sacrifice for sin was accepted by the Father. "And He Himself is the propitiation [satisfactory payment] for our sins" (1 John 2:2). Now, God's grace could be poured out on all who would believe in the Lord Jesus.

Fifty days after the crucifixion (on the day of Pentecost), the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the followers of Christ. Empowered by His Spirit, the early church began to live in the power of the resurrection, proclaiming boldly the eternally ordained resurrection victory of their Lord. "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it" (Acts 2:23-24).

Lord God of resurrection, I praise You for the resurrection of Your Son, Jesus, my Savior. Lord Jesus, I greatly anticipate celebrating the Lord's Supper with You some day in the full reality of Your kingdom. Meanwhile, please work in my life the richness of Your grace, secured by Your sacrificial death and resurrection victory. In Your mighty name, I pray, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 12

Reflecting on the Holy Spirit and Grace

"And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication." (Zechariah 12:10)

Let's take a reflective look at our meditations on the Holy Spirit as a reminder that we are still studying about the grace of God. In considering how to live by the fullness of the Spirit, we have examined how to live more fully by the grace of God.

In Zechariah 4:6, we observed the connection between living by the Spirit and living by the grace of God: "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit." Serving the Lord is accomplished by the work of the Spirit in and through our lives, not by natural capabilities. The next verse restates this truth in terms of God's grace. "And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of 'Grace, grace to it'!" Every completed task in the service of God is accomplished by His grace (God's undeserved resources), not by our ingenuity or merit.

We also saw how the early church experienced this relationship between the Spirit and grace. "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 4:31, 33). The boldness they experienced through the Holy Spirit is described as a result of great grace at work upon them.

Jesus came to establish a new covenant. "This cup is the new covenant in My blood" (Luke 22:20). This covenant was characterized by grace, in contrast to the old covenant that Moses set in place. "For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). This new covenant of grace is also a covenant of the Spirit. "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).

When the Lord Jesus returns and Israel humbly bows to Him as their Messiah, this wondrous response will be the result of "the Spirit of grace" being poured out upon them. This glorious title, identifying grace with the Holy Spirit, beautifully sums up the grand truth that living by grace and walking in the Spirit are two perspectives on the same precious reality.

O God of all Grace, I long to live by Your grace day by day. Lord, I thank You that grace is not merely some principle that I must apply, but rather a resource You must impart. Would You therefore pour out upon me in fullness the Spirit of grace?

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 11

Three Wrong Responses to the Holy Spirit

You always resist the Holy Spirit…Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…Do not quench the Spirit. (Acts 7:51; Ephesians 4:30; and 1 Thessalonians 5:19)

It is the will of God that we walk in daily dependence upon the Holy Spirit. It is God's desire that we seek Him for the fullness of the Spirit's work in and through our lives. Three wrong responses that undermine the will of God in our lives are resisting, grieving, and quenching the Spirit of the Lord.

When Stephen was on trial before the religious leaders of Israel, he preached a powerful sermon declaring the faithfulness of God toward His consistently unfaithful nation. He concluded his message with a pointed, radical, accurate evaluation. "You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you" (Acts 7:51). Here we are given the kind of attitudes that oppose the work of the Spirit. These people were "stiffnecked." They were stubborn and self-willed. They wanted their will, not the will of God. They also were "uncircumcised in heart and ears." They did not allow God to cut away the carnality of their inner being. They would not allow God to speak to them through His messengers. They were self-righteous and self-sufficient. When we conduct ourselves in this same manner, we also are "resist[ing] the Holy Spirit."

When Paul was writing to the church at Ephesus, he commanded them: "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit." In the next verse he indicated the dispositions that bring grief to the Spirit of God. "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice" (Ephesians 4:31). Yes, the Holy Spirit is a person, not a mere power or influence. He can be saddened by our behavior. When we, God's people, harbor bitterness in our hearts and malicious words in our mouths, then we are "griev[ing] the Holy Spirit of God."

When Paul wrote to the saints at Thessalonica, he instructed them: "Do not quench the Spirit." Just as a fire can be quenched, the promptings of the Holy Spirit can be stifled. As we read the word of God, the Spirit can be stirring a spiritual fire of conviction within us. Will we respond to that heavenly influence, or will we suppress it? When the Lord is igniting a vision of service unto Him, will we yield or will we extinguish it? When the Lord is calling us to intercessory prayer, will we cry out to Him or will we suppress that desire He is kindling? Will we allow the Spirit to blaze within our hearts, or will we "quench the Spirit?"

O Father, I am convicted by Your Spirit of times that I have behaved in these same ways. I have resisted and grieved and quenched the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. Lord, I repent, and I ask You to show me any area of my life that is not yielded to the full work of Your Spirit. This I pray through Christ, my Lord, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 10

Another Picture of the Fullness of the Spirit

"If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." But this He spoke concerning the Spirit. (John 7:37-39)

These words from Jesus provide another picture of what the fullness of the Spirit is all about, as well as how to walk in that spiritual abundance. His remarks are addressed to those who are thirsty: "If anyone thirsts." In this spiritual context, thirst can speak of the painful dryness that often accompanies need or lack. Pressures, responsibilities, busyness, disappointments, and preoccupation with earthly matters can dry out the soul of man. Corresponding to this need, thirst can refer to the eager yearning after those heavenly blessings that refresh and restore our inner life. Such thirsty conditions apply to all of us at various times.

Jesus tells us exactly how to remedy such thirst. "Come to Me and drink." We are to bring these needs to the Lord Jesus Christ and drink of Him. So often, we attempt to satisfy such thirsts by drinking at other wells. Thirsty people around the world attempt to find relief through education, work, religion, politics, entertainment, money, drugs, and more. They all encounter the truth that our Lord revealed to the Samaritan woman at the well. "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again" (John 4:13). We must take our spiritual thirsts to a person, to "the Person," the Lord Jesus.

Yet, how do we drink of the thirst-quenching resources of Jesus? He indicated the means in the next phrase: "He who believes in Me." When we bring our dry, thirsty needs to Jesus and believe that He can meet those needs, we are drinking from what the Lord alone can offer. We drink of Christ's resources by faith. Jesus included this insight earlier in His discourse on the bread of life. "He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst" (John 6:35).

Unquestionably, Jesus will always satisfy legitimate thirsts that are brought to Him. Yet, there is more available here. The spiritual water that Christ provides also works within the thirsty soul. "The water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14). This Holy Spirit supply develops abundant life within the trusting heart. Ultimately, this fountain that grows within flows outward to others. "Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." Dry, thirsty hearts that come to Jesus in faith, not only find satisfaction for their thirst, but eventually pour out life in the Spirit to others.

Lord Jesus, You know the thirsty places within my life. I bring them to You now. I believe that You can meet these needs. I open up to the work of Your Spirit to quench the thirsts deep within my heart. Lord, I praise You for the expectation I have that You can turn my dryness into torrents of living waters to bless others, in Your name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - March 9

More on Praying for the Fullness of the Spirit

"And I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened…your heavenly Father [will] give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" (Luke 11:9-10, 13)

Here again, the work of the Spirit in our lives is associated with prayer. Prayer is that wonderful God-ordained means of relating to the Lord in humility and faith (the two means by which we access grace). In praying, we are humbly admitting that we need God. In praying, we are exercising faith toward God that He will act on our behalf. We pray; God moves by His Spirit, pouring out whatever grace is necessary for any given situation.

We saw this in our previous meditation. "That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith… that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:16-19). Here, prayer was the avenue to being filled with the bountiful work of the Spirit in our lives. We humbly ask; the Lord faithfully works. This is precisely the teaching of Jesus in our present passage.

The end of Jesus' message involves the Spirit being given to those who ask. "How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" This is also where our Scripture began. "And I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." These are three parallel commands, followed by three parallel promises. Who receives Holy Spirit fullness? Those who ask God for such. Who experiences the life-empowering work of the Spirit, that every child of God must find? Those who seek God to impart such. Who is flooded with the outpouring of God's Spirit? Those who knock prayerfully on heaven's doors.

Then, making these three "command-promise" couplets even more sure, Jesus adds three more statements of certainty. "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." These are absolutes. There are no exceptions. Those who genuinely ask, seek, or knock can go on their way by faith, knowing that the Lord will be doing a thorough work of His Spirit in them.

As with the earlier command to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), these imperatives are also in the present tense. They could be rendered: keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking. Again, this is a way to live, not a singular event.

Giver of every good and perfect gift, I humbly ask You for a fresh new work of Your Spirit. Lord, I rest on Your promise that everyone who asks receives. Manifest Your fullness in me in any way that You desire, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - March 8

Praying for the Fullness of the Spirit

That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)

For those who are wondering how to be filled with the Spirit, the prayer in Ephesians 3 offers excellent insight. The precise relevance of this passage for our present subject is obvious, when the concluding purpose of the prayer is noted: "that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."

The opening phrases use the language of grace: "That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory." Grace is about God at work, giving us blessings we cannot deserve. These blessings are in proportion to His glorious spiritual riches. This perspective fits our studies on the Spirit perfectly, because when the Holy Spirit is at work, He pours out God's grace.

The initial request pertains to an inner working of the Spirit: "to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man." Note, this request is made on behalf of those who already have the Spirit residing in their hearts. The specific issue is about receiving new measures of spiritual power at the core of our being.

The desired result of this work of the Spirit is "that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." Jesus is present in the heart of every believer. Here, He is being asked to settle down fully and make Himself at home. Jesus is to be given free rein to rearrange our innermost being to fit His good pleasure. Allowing Jesus to rule our hearts requires the empowering work of the Holy Spirit to break past spiritual obstacles such as apathy, fear, self-focus, and temptations. To allow Jesus to lead us in His way, we need the Holy Spirit enabling us to stay in God's word, to pray without ceasing, to worship daily, and to fellowship regularly.

Then, as Jesus rearranges our inner life, He wants to anchor every aspect of our lives in God's love: "that you, being rooted and grounded in love." With this, He wants us to experience the dimensions of His love, which are beyond mere head knowledge: "to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height-to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge." This Holy Spirit process is always leading to more spiritual fullness: "that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."

Dear Father in heaven, I humbly cry out to You every word of this majestic prayer. I earnestly desire the reality of its every implication, all by your Holy Spirit, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - March 7.

Results of Being Filled with the Holy Spirit

Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God. (Ephesians 5:18-21)

When a person is filled with the Holy Spirit, what will the results be in his life? What evidences will develop to validate the work of the Spirit in fullness? In some church traditions, which give considerable attention to the fullness of the Spirit, limited evidences are stressed (such as those mentioned often in Acts: tongues, prophecy, or boldness). The full biblical picture is much larger than this viewpoint.

Ephesians 5:18-21 is a classic example of the Scriptures' broad perspective on this subject. In verse 18, the command is given to "be filled with the Spirit." The subsequent verses (19-21) list the spiritual consequences that will follow in a life that is characteristically Spirit filled.

When a believer in Christ is living in the fullness of the Spirit, he will be led into (and empowered unto) fellowship with, and ministry to, others: "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." These words fit those times when believers gather together for spiritual celebration through music. Some of the music of the church is directed toward other believers in the form of exhortation and edification. A Spirit filled Christian will be involved in "one another life" in the body of Christ.

Closely related to this, however, is the essential presence of a worshiping heart: "singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." Genuine fellowship and effective ministry flows forth from an inner life focused in adoration upon the Lord Himself. A Spirit filled Christian will be a worshiper of the true and living God.

Further, when a disciple of Jesus is filled with the Spirit, his life will typically overflow with thanksgiving: "giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." The world and the flesh produce complaints and dissatisfaction. The Spirit of the Lord stirs gratitude and appreciation.

Additionally, servanthood submission is a common attribute of one who is Spirit filled: "submitting to one another in the fear of God." Natural humanity wants to control people and exercise mastery over them. The Spirit of Christ, the servant of all (Matthew 20:28), brings forth humble service from those who revere the Lord.

Father, I bow before Your command to be filled with the Spirit. This I need; this I desire. Lord, forgive me for times of isolation and selfishness. Flood me with Your Spirit unto fellowship and ministry. Forgive any lifeless religion in me and fill me unto true worship. Forgive my griping and complaining and inundate me unto thanksgiving. Forgive my desires to rule and fill me unto servanthood, through Christ, I pray, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - March 6

Spirit Fullness: A Way of Life, Not Merely Events

Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire…And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them…the place…was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…And do not be drunk with wine…but be filled with the Spirit. (Acts 2:3-4; 4:8, 31; and Ephesians 5:18)

When we were born again through faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit came to dwell in our lives from that point thereafter (1 Corinthians 3:16). After the new birth, our lives may be repeatedly filled to overflowing by the empowering presence of the Spirit. The testimony of the early disciples illustrates this.

On the day of Pentecost, the 120 followers of Jesus were filled with the Spirit. "Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire…And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit." Subsequently, the Apostle Peter, who was originally filled on Pentecost, was again filled as he stood before the religious hierarchy of Israel. "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them." After this encounter, Peter joined the other disciples for a prayer meeting. "And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit." In this event, those who had been filled with the Spirit at Pentecost were filled a second time. Peter, who had been so filled twice before, was filled a third time. Therefore, it is evident that the filling of the Spirit is not a once for all time matter.

Furthermore, being filled with the Spirit is not automatic or universal for Christians, as is the indwelling of the Spirit. This fact can be clearly seen in the instruction given in Ephesians 5:18. "And do not be drunk with wine…but be filled with the Spirit." Since this is a command and not a description, it only becomes a personal reality to those who respond properly.

Additionally, the form of this command contains tremendous insight concerning the fullness of the Spirit and God's desire for us. The injunction to "be filled with the Spirit" is in the present tense, indicating an ongoing condition. It could properly (though awkwardly) be translated "be (always) being filled." This imperative is a call to a way of living, not merely periodic events. It is the will of God that we actually live, day by day, more and more, by the fullness of the Spirit's empowering work. We should humbly pray for the fullness of the Holy Spirit as we face each day, each challenge, each opportunity of life.

Lord God of all power and might, I rejoice that Your Holy Spirit dwells within my heart. I thank You for those times when Your Spirit has worked powerfully upon my life. Help me to see that the fullness of Your Spirit is not merely an event-to-event experience, but a lifestyle to be developed. Lord, with great expectation I humbly seek You now for a fresh, ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in me. In the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - March 5

Holy Spirit Empowering: Three Terms, One Reality

"You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now…you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you"…And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:5, 8; and 2:4)

When the book of Acts addresses Holy Spirit empowering for ministry, three different terms are used to describe the same reality. When Jesus promised this power, He used the term "baptized with." "You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." When He indicated that this power would result in a worldwide witness, the term "come upon you" was used. "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you." Then, when these promises of the Spirit were fulfilled, the term employed was "filled with." "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit."

It is clear that these three sets of terms in Acts 1 and 2 are all referring to the same spiritual phenomenon: the Holy Spirit empowering Jesus' followers for witness. Each terminology may carry its own descriptive implications. To be "baptized with" the Spirit is like being inundated by Him. To have the Spirit "come upon you" is like being impacted from above by Him. To be "filled with" the Spirit is like overflowing with Him. Nevertheless, although each expression brings its own picture, they all are describing the same reality. All three terms are biblically accurate (although "filled with the Holy Spirit" is used most frequently throughout Acts).

These promises of Holy Spirit empowering cannot be monopolized by any denominational group or theological heritage. Nor can they be ignored by any individual or segment within the body of Christ. These truths are for all of God's children. Every disciple of the Lord Jesus must continue to learn and to grow in this essential spiritual empowering.

Perhaps a word of clarification is in order. These promises are not about the Spirit indwelling the people of God. The Holy Spirit definitely lives within every born again believer in Jesus Christ. "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16). The Spirit already lived within the apostles when they were given these promises. "And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (John 20:22). These promises are about the indwelling Spirit flooding and overflowing our lives with the empowering reality of His presence.

Dear Lord Jesus, You came to give us life abundant. Please fill my life to overflowing with the empowering work of Your Spirit. Lord, I am not seeking personal benefits or experiences. I am asking to become a more effective witness. I need the Holy Spirit's power that I might reflect the reality of the risen Christ, in Your mighty name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - March 4

Holy Spirit Power to Be Witnesses

"You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

After the cross and the resurrection, the Lord Jesus taught His disciples for forty days before He ascended to the Father. One of His strategic messages of preparation concerned the Holy Spirit enablement they would need to fulfill their ministry. "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you." After this vital promise was given, Jesus was taken up into heaven to the right hand of the Father. Ten days later, on the day of Pentecost, this promise was fulfilled by the outpouring of the Spirit. "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:4). The grand result of this empowering would be the spread of the gospel, region by region, throughout the entire world. "You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

Their success is documented in the Scriptures. The religious opposition admitted that Jerusalem was promptly reached. "Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine" (Acts 5:28). Soon thereafter, Judea was being touched. "At that time a great persecution arose…and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea…Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word" (Acts 8:1, 4). Next, the message of Jesus entered Samaria. "Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip" (Acts 8:5-6). Finally, the gospel of grace poured out around the world: "The word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world" (Colossians 1:5-6).

This worldwide outreach was an astounding development, considering the unimpressive human credentials that characterized Jesus' followers. "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13). The explanation for their effectiveness was contained in the last phrase. These men had spent time with Jesus, had been impacted by Him, and were now walking in the spiritual strength of His Spirit.

In order for any disciple (then or now) to be an effective demonstration of the reality of the risen Christ, they must live by the power of the Holy Spirit.

O Lord, my strength, make my life a daily witness, declaring in word, deed, and attitude that Jesus is alive. Lord, my own abilities will never be sufficient to accomplish this. So,I humbly pray, empower me by Your Holy Spirit, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - March 3

Once More on Jesus and the Holy Spirit

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD. (Isaiah 61:1-2)

In this prophetic Scripture, we see the ministry of Christ is attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit (as noted before in the manifestation of His godly character). "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me."

By the empowering of the Spirit, Jesus was sent forth to "preach good tidings to the poor." This refers to the gospel of salvation. "And Jesus went about all the cities and villages…preaching the gospel of the kingdom" (Matthew 9:35). This good news of salvation would be received by those who admitted their spiritual bankruptcy. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3).

Also, Jesus was sent forth to "heal the brokenhearted." The heart of man can be broken by so many things: condemnation, grief, failure, betrayal, and more. Jesus comforts and restores those who trust in Him. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Matthew 5:4).

Additionally, Jesus was sent forth to "proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound." As with captive Israel of old, people today get into bondage to the world system. They become captivated by worldly thinking, bound by bad habits, and imprisoned by ungodly relationships. Jesus is the great liberator for all who cry out to Him and feed thereafter upon His inspired word. "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed" (John 8:32, 36).

Furthermore, Jesus was sent forth to "proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD." Ultimately, this speaks of the entire age of grace, whereby lives are accepted by God through faith in His beloved Son and enriched by Christ with immeasurable spiritual riches. "God… has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:3, 6).

We are also sent forth to minister. "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you" (John 20:21). As it was with Jesus, we can only fulfill our calling by the same Holy Spirit who empowered His ministry.

Dear Father, please apply all of these ministries of the grace of Jesus to my life in fullness. Then, Father, would You empower me by Your Holy Spirit to go forth in the name of Jesus, offering these same realities to others who need them as well. I place my hope for effectiveness in the enabling anointing of the Spirit, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - March 2

More on Jesus and the Holy Spirit

A Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:1-2)

In this prophecy of the Messiah, we are told how the Lord Jesus (walking upon earth as a man) would function in order to manifest godliness. He would live by this prophetic promise: "The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him."

The Holy Spirit operating in Jesus would be to Him "the Spirit of wisdom and understanding." No one ever displayed wisdom like Christ. Whether dealing with the woman taken in adultery (John 8:2-11) or answering provoking questions about Caesar's image on a coin (Luke 20:20-26), He wisely circumvented every attempt to undermine His ministry. Jesus also demonstrated perfect understanding. When confronting the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23:13-35), He applied perfect discernment, exposing the corruption of their hearts.

Operating in Jesus, the Holy Spirit would also be to Him "the Spirit of counsel and might." Jesus was truly the "Wonderful Counselor" (Isaiah 9:6). When counseling Nicodemus, the religious ruler (John 3:1-21), and the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:7-42), He fully gave them what their hearts were seeking in the truths they needed to hear. Also, Jesus distinctively exhibited the might of God. Whether boldly speaking to calm the raging sea (Mark 4:35-41) or courageously remaining silent at His trial (Matthew 27:11-14), the mighty power of God was on majestic display.

Ministering to Jesus, the Holy Spirit would also be to Him "the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD." No one ever possessed knowledge like the Lord Jesus. "Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men" (John 2:24). "Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father" (John 13:1). Jesus not only had thorough knowledge, but that knowledge was always controlled by "the fear of the LORD." Everything that Jesus ever did was under the full influence of His godly fear (reverential trust and loving respect) toward the Father. "The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him" (John 8:29).

Remember, all of these wondrous expressions of Jesus' character were based upon the enabling work of the Holy Spirit. "The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him." This same Spirit of God can bring forth in our lives every appropriate application of these same realities manifested in the life of Jesus.

Who is like You, O Lord? Who could ever match Your majestic character—certainly not me. Yet, I need manifestations of such fruit in my life. Please work deeply in me by Your Holy Spirit, producing such Christlikeness, I pray, in Your holy name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - March 1

Jesus and the Holy Spirit

That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit…and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him…Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Matthew 1:20; 3:16; and 4:1)

We gain great insight into the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives by considering the work of the Spirit in the life of Jesus. From the very beginning of Jesus' history upon earth as Emmanuel, God with us, the Holy Spirit was involved. When Joseph was troubled over Mary's pregnancy, an angel comforted him by announcing: "That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit." Jesus' conception was not of man, but of the Spirit.

When Jesus was identifying Himself with sinful humanity through His baptism by John, the Holy Spirit was again at work. "And He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him." Here, as Jesus was presenting Himself for the commencing of His public ministry as Messiah, the Spirit of God came upon Him for authentication and empowering. The Son of God came to earth as a servant, laying aside the independent exercise of His inherent deity. Jesus "made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant" (Philippians 2:7). He would serve in dependence upon the Spirit. Jesus' ministry would not be of man (even the perfect Man), but of God.

When Jesus went forth from His baptism to fulfill His calling, the Spirit was still fully engaged in His life. "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." Although Jesus never ceased to be God, the Son, He would not lead Himself about through reliance upon His divine omniscience (His perfect and complete knowledge). His guidance would not be of man, but of God.

These three glimpses into the work of the Spirit in Jesus' life have implications for us. First, the Holy Spirit had to be working for Jesus to be birthed here on earth. The same Spirit of God had to work for us to be born into the family of God. "Unless one is born of…the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). Second, the Holy Spirit was active in the ministry of Jesus as Messiah. The Spirit must be the one who brings us spiritual validation and power in our service of God: "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit" (Zechariah 4:6). Third, Jesus looked to the Spirit to lead and guide Him through life. We also need that same work of the Spirit. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Romans 8:14).

O Shepherd of my soul, please lead me in this Christlike path. Thank You for bringing me new birth by Your Spirit. O, Lord, would You now empower my life for service unto You. And would You lead me by Your Spirit day by day. I admit my total need for such works of the Holy Spirit in my life. Please work in fullness, in Your name, I pray, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - February 28

The Crucial Choice: Flesh or Spirit

Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Romans 8:5-6)

The crucial choice that believers in Christ face day by day is between living by the flesh or living by the Spirit. The difference is facing life by our resources and perspectives or by God's resources and perspectives. "Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit." When a Christian deals with life by his flesh, he typically thinks about "what I want out of my life" or "what I can accomplish with my life." Conversely, when a Christian deals with life by the Spirit, he typically thinks about "what God wants for my life" or "what God can accomplish through my life."

The consequences related to this choice are monumental. "For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." When a believer allows his mind to be set in a carnal direction, he will be thinking about worldly self-indulgence ("what I can get out of this") or religious self-accomplishment ("what I can do for God"). The result of either carnal perspective is "death" (spiritual deadness). On the other hand, when a follower of Jesus sets his mind on heavenly matters, he will be considering issues of humility ("how much I need the Lord") or faith ("how great the Lord is"). The results of such spiritual thoughts are "life and peace" (spiritual vitality and spiritual tranquility).

Another analysis of these two options can be seen in the contrast between the "works of the flesh" and the "fruit of the Spirit." When we put our hope in our own capabilities, our flesh produces deeds such as "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like" (Galatians 5:19-21). Contrariwise, when we place our expectations upon the Lord, His Spirit brings forth through us fruit like "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23).

Consider this fundamental truth. These "flesh-Spirit" choices are what all of us will face every day of our lives. The persistency of these issues is inherent in the fact that God offers only two options for every issue of life; namely, "live according to the flesh" or "live according to the Spirit."

O Sovereign Lord, I bow to Your wisdom and authority that offer these two choices alone. Lord, I renounce the natural path of my flesh which brings severe, but deserved, consequences. I gladly embrace the supernatural path of Your Spirit, which brings the undeserved results of Your grace at work in me, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - February 27

Set Free by the Spirit

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)

There is a destructive spiritual tendency that resides in every human being. It is "the law of sin and death." This indwelling principle is always pulling people downward into sin and spiritual deadness. It comes from being physically born into a fallen race of sinners who are like their earthly father, Adam. Being born anew spiritually does not remove this problem, since this principle still operates within our natural humanity (the flesh). Yet, becoming a child of God does make His remedy constantly available to us.

God's remedy for"the law of sin and death" is a higher, more powerful principle: "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus." This lofty principle involves the Holy Spirit making the life that is in Christ Jesus our resource for living. This principle is operating in the life of any new creature in Christ who is not walking "according to the flesh but [is walking] according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:4b). This approach to Christian living is the only one that can liberate us from the internal carnal tendencies that influence us all.

In fact (as we have noted previously), this is the only hope of growing in the godliness that the law demanded: "that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us" (Romans 8:4a). Our lives can only measure up to the holy will of God when we are walking in the Spirit, because Christ is then being allowed to express His life through us. Jesus was (and is) the only one who could ever walk fully pleasing to the Father. Jesus said, "I always do those things that please Him" (John 8:29). For a victorious Christian experience, we need this same life of Jesus living in and through us now, by the working of the Holy Spirit. We need the higher law ("the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus") setting us free from the lower law ("the law of sin and death").

Again, what is our responsibility in this? We are to relate to the Lord in humility and faith. Humility can develop as we agree with our Lord that "the law of sin and death" characterizes our flesh (our best natural resources). Faith can be exercised as we look to our Lord to demonstrate that "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."

Dear Lord Jesus, You alone can supply the life I am called to live. I humbly agree with Your word that my resources are marred by a tendency to sin. Teach me to trust in Your Holy Spirit for liberation from living by my flesh. I thank You in advance for the faithful ways You will answer this prayer. Lord Jesus, live in and through me by the power of Your Spirit, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - February 26

The Contrary Desires of the Flesh and the Spirit

For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. (Galatians 5:17)

Every believer in Christ has had the frustrating experience of wanting to do what pleases the Lord, but being unable to actually accomplish such. We are told here that a spiritual struggle is behind that failure. "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh." The Spirit of God dwells within our lives. He is the "Spirit of holiness" (Romans 1:4). He desires that we be "partakers of His holiness" (Hebrews 12:10) and thereby walk in godliness. However, the flesh (natural humanity) is also present in our lives. The natural desires of man are not toward holiness, but rather toward self-indulgence and self-sufficiency. Thus, what the Spirit desires and what our flesh craves are set against each other. "These are contrary to one another." The consequence of this internal conflict is "that you do not do the things that you wish." Even though godly desires develop in us as new creatures in Christ, we find ourselves unable to implement these new longings by our good intentions.

The Apostle Paul gave testimony to his own failure in this battle. "For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice" (Romans 7:19). The problem was that Paul's personal resources (the flesh) were not adequate to produce the desired results. "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find" (Romans 7:18). Yes, Paul had some godly desires. "For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man" (Romans 7:22). Nevertheless, there was a problem that he could not resolve on his own. "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members" (Romans 7:23). A tendency to sin that dwelt in Paul's human members (his body, his brain) pulled him down to defeat. He needed help.

Access to that necessary divine rescue was through a humble cry for a deliverer. "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24). This appropriate confession of the spiritual bankruptcy of his flesh led to another confession of certain victory. "I thank God-[it is] through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:25). This humble turning from self to Christ allows one to walk in the Spirit, living by His victorious resources. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:2).

Dear Jesus, Mighty Deliverer, I humbly admit that I am not able to implement by my best efforts the godly desires that are developing in me. I need You, Lord. So many times I have had holy intentions that ended up in carnal defeat. So, Lord, I cry out to You to deliver me from my present struggles, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - February 25

Walking in the Spirit

Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh…If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Galatians 5:16, 25)

The term "walk" is used dozens of times in the New Testament to describe the manner of life a person is leading. Many of these occurrences depict the Christian life: "walk in love… walk as children of light… walk circumspectly" (Ephesians 5:2, 8, 15). In our passages, we are told to "walk in the Spirit."

Walking is a very insightful description of spiritual life. A walk has a beginning and a destination. Our beginning was in new birth: "born of the Spirit" (John 3:6). Our destination is heaven forever with our Lord and Savior: "And thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:17). A good walk is steady and progressive. We are called to be faithful: "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21). We are called to press ahead: "forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal" (Philippians 3:13-14). In addition, a walk has many potential adventures along the way. We are likely to encounter stretching challenges and paradoxical blessings: "in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness…as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things" (2 Corinthians 6:5, 10).

Ultimately, a walk must have an available resource that provides sufficient vitality, strength, guidance, and assurance. Here, our passages offer special hope through the injunction to "walk in the Spirit." Day by day, each step of the way, we are to rely upon the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Every issue of life (whether at home, office, school, or church) is to be faced in this manner. Otherwise, the influence of our flesh (our natural humanity) will prevail. "Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." In ourselves we are not able to overcome the inadequacies and improper tendencies of the flesh. However, the Holy Spirit is more than able to become our sufficient provider of whatever we need for an effective and fruitful walk.

This perspective on Christian living makes complete biblical sense, when we connect our daily walk to how we found spiritual life in the first place. "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." It was strictly by the work of the Spirit that we received life initially; therefore, let us take each step of life, "walk[ing] in the Spirit."

Lord God Almighty, I am so weak and so easily enticed in my flesh. I cannot produce what is needed for the spiritual walk to which I am called. O Lord, I cry out to You for the indispensable work of Your Spirit within me. Lord, teach me to walk day by day by the grace that Your Spirit alone can provide, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - February 24

The Holy Spirit and Going On with God

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 work of the Holy Spirit is required for people to start out with God through new birth and justification. The Holy Spirit must also be at work in believers if they are to go on with God in growth and sanctification.

The opening portion of our present Scripture passage uses a question to address our starting out with God. "Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" The answer to this question is obvious. No one could ever have the Spirit of God come to indwell them on the basis of their performance before God's law. Only the "hearing of faith" could ever cause that. The Holy Spirit came to live in us when we heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and believed in Him. At that time, our sins were forgiven, we were justified (declared not guilty, righteous in God's sight), and we were born again by the Spirit. All of this marked our beginning with God. All of this involved the work of the Holy Spirit on our behalf.

The closing words of the passage use two additional questions to apply this issue of the Spirit's work to our going on with God. "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" We who are the children of God began with Him "in the Spirit." Now, it would be spiritually senseless to think that we could progress with God "by the flesh." Surely, we agree with the Lord that we could not produce our own spiritual birth into His family. We had to be "born of the Spirit" (John 3:6). Certainly, we want to agree with God that we cannot manufacture our own spiritual growth, that is, be "made perfect by the flesh."

The Lord desires that we mature and develop in this new life in Christ. Such growth in Christ is a spiritual matter. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." The resources that we have all received from our earthly parents are of the flesh. These natural capabilities cannot develop us spiritually. The perfecting process (becoming increasingly like the Lord Jesus Christ) necessitates the Holy Spirit's working in us. Remember, the means God used to start us out with Him (to justify us) are the means He uses to grow us up in Him (to sanctify us).

O Holy Father, I humbly admit that I have foolishly thought, at times, that I could produce godliness in myself through my own best efforts. Lord, I see that I need Your Spirit as much for spiritual growth as I did for spiritual birth. As I seek You through prayer and Your word, please take me on with You in growth and sanctification by the work of Your Holy Spirit, through Christ, I pray, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - February 23

The Holy Spirit and Starting Out with God

"Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit…You must be born again." (John 3:5-7)

The new life that allows us to start out with God comes through a spiritual birth provided by the Holy Spirit. "Unless one is born of…the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." Just as man must be physically born into the human family, so man must be spiritually born into God's family. There is no other option. That is why Jesus said, "You must be born again."

The reason spiritual new birth is a necessity is because "that which is born of the flesh is flesh." Natural human birth can only produce a natural life. Becoming a child of God involves a supernatural life that God alone can provide.

When Jesus came to secure our redemption, He was generally rejected. "He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him" (John 1:11). Nevertheless, some realized that He was Messiah, the Anointed King and Savior sent from the Father. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12).

Believing in Jesus' name involves trusting in His person and His work. It encompasses relying upon who He is, what He says, and what He has done and can do. Such faith brings a unique new birth: "Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13). This birth is from God. It cannot come by inheritance or genetics through our human bloodline. It is not available through an exercise of our human will. Neither can we have it pronounced upon us by some religious leader.

The Lord desires us to walk in a heavenly, spiritual life, not a mere earthly, human existence. Only a birth from the Spirit of God could bring us this type of life. "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit." All genuine spirituality must come from a work of the Holy Spirit on our behalf. This is true concerning our starting out with God in new birth and justification. "You…were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11). We will see in subsequent meditations that this is true concerning our going on with God in growth and sanctification.

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for making me Your child through faith in Your Son, Jesus. I praise You for the new life Your Holy Spirit has brought to me. Help me to understand from Your word that the entire Christian experience is to be as supernatural as being born again was. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen

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Day By Day By Grace - February 22

The Holy Spirit Giving Life

"It is the Spirit who gives life"…[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. (John 6:63 and 2 Corinthians 3:6)

The Lord's new covenant of grace is a covenant of the Spirit: "[God] also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant…of the Spirit." Any approach to God other than by the Spirit results in spiritual deadness.

People need life, initially and continually. We need it initially, because we were spiritually dead due to sin and guilt. "And you…were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh…and were by nature children of wrath" (Ephesians 2:1-3). The only remedy for such spiritual death is spiritual life. "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)" (Ephesians 2:4-5).

People also need life continually, "for the letter kills." If we were left to our best efforts after we were given new life in Christ, we would be struggling under a human performance bondage of rules and regulations. That is spiritually deadening.

Jesus came to earth to offer people fullness of life. "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). Jesus taught that if we looked to Him for our spiritual nutrition, we would find ongoing life. "And Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life'" (John 6:35). Jesus did not refer to Himself as a leader establishing a new religion. Rather, "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life'" (John 14:6). When the early disciples were freed from prison, they were not told to recruit members to a movement. Instead, they were instructed to "Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life" (Acts 5:20).

The life Jesus provides is His life expressed in and through us: "Christ who is our life" (Colossians 3:4). That life produces a lifestyle marked by His love, His joy, His peace, His wisdom, His courage-and whatever else is of His holy character. The new covenant of His grace holds forth this life, and the Holy Spirit delivers that life into humble, trusting hearts. "It is the Spirit who gives life."

Lord Jesus,You are my life. I have no other hope or source for finding true life. I praise You for Your patience with me when I try to produce a Christlike life by rules and regulations. Lord, just as You gave me life initially, please flood me now with new measures of Your life, as I humbly rely upon Your Spirit, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - February 21

The New Covenant of Grace: A Holy Spirit Covenant

"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. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them." (Ezekiel 36:26-27)

As noted earlier, the new covenant is about grace, as contrasted with the old covenant, which is about law. "For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). The connection between grace and the Holy Spirit can be seen in various Scripture passages on the new covenant, including this glorious prophecy. "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." The first verse in this prophetic promise concerns regeneration, spiritual new birth. Through faith in the Lord, our original, hard, lifeless heart is removed, and a new, pliable, living spirit is given to us.

The second verse pertains to transformation, the ongoing development of this new life. "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes." The life that increasingly complies with the will of God depends upon the work of the Holy Spirit within us. We know that unredeemed humanity has no hope of living in a way that is pleasing to God. Yet, many Christians may be unaware that even the new creature in Christ cannot, on his own resources, please God. The Spirit of God must be the heavenly cause that produces heavenly character in believers.

What is promised here is not an automatic experience. The lives of many Christians do not consistently match what is described here in Ezekiel 36:27. The reason is that they are not relating properly to the Lord in humble dependence. Yes, these two relational realities (humility and faith) also determine whether or not the Spirit of God is our resource, just as they were determinative concerning grace.

Two statements by Jesus expound upon this fact. "You have no life in you…It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing" (John 6:53, 63). We do not innately possess life as God intends it to be lived. Natural human resources are of no benefit in developing a godly life. Such revelation is very humbling. If we embrace Jesus' evaluation of our personal inadequacy, then we are willing to relate to God in humility. There is a further truth in which we are to place our trust. "It is the Spirit who gives life." As we count on this truth, we are relating to the Lord in faith. The result of such humble reliance is that God's Spirit becomes our vitality for godly living.

O Lord, the source of true life, thank You for establishing such a gracious arrangement as the new covenant. I praise You that Your Holy Spirit is my heavenly dynamic for godliness. I confess that my fleshly attempts to please You are so inadequate. I humbly ask You to cause me to walk in Your good will, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - February 20

The Grace of God and the Holy Spirit

This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit," says the LORD of hosts. "Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of 'Grace, grace to it!'" (Zechariah 4:6-7)

The Scriptures reveal a profound connection between God's grace and His Holy Spirit. Living by the grace of God and walking according to the Spirit are two different perspectives on the same reality. As we consider what walking in the Spirit comprises, we also gain insight into living day by day by grace.

Our passage from Zechariah confirms this correlation between grace and the Spirit. Here, the Lord gives a message to Zerubbabel, telling him how service is rendered unto God: "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit." Human might or power will never be a sufficient resource for living life as God intended. Rather, the Holy Spirit must supply what we need for a life of service to the Lord.

In the next verse, this same truth is restated, using different terminology. Now the Lord is addressing the mountain of impossibilities that stood before Zerubbabel. "Who are you, O great mountain?" This leader of Israel was given the challenging mission of reestablishing the testimony of God in Jerusalem, as the people returned from captivity. The obstacles had the appearance of being a "great mountain." Nevertheless, God declares that this mountain of obstructions would become a highway for advancement. "Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain!" Then, as God's man attended to God's assignment by the empowering of the Spirit, he would eventually place the final stone with an intriguing exclamation. "And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of "Grace, grace to it!" This summary testimony would declare that God's grace was the explanation for the completion of the task. The relationship between grace and the Spirit is clear: "by My Spirit… grace, grace to it!" When we depend upon the Spirit, He works God's grace within our lives.

The early church also illustrated this "grace-Spirit" association. "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 4:31, 33). The former statement indicates that their boldness came from the Holy Spirit. The latter statement, two verses later, reveals that their boldness was a result of grace impacting them.

Almighty God, thank You for revealing this "grace-Spirit" association. In living by grace, I see that You must provide what I cannot produce or earn. In living by Your Spirit, I see that grace is not just a concept I apply, but rather it is a gift that must be imparted to me by the Spirit of God Himself. Lord, do Your work in me, I humbly pray, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - February 19

A Warning Against Changing God's Grace

I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith…For certain men have crept in unnoticed…ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness. (Jude 3-4)

From the early days of the Lord's church, a constant threat has been posed by those who want to change God's grace into something it is not. The attempted changes always relate to either licentiousness or legalism.

Jude addressed this problem in his powerful letter of warning. He called all followers of Christ to engage in a zealous battle for the integrity of the word of God. "I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith." Such contending is essential, because carnal religious people desire to alter grace, as they quietly operate within churches. "For certain men have crept in unnoticed…ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness." Their intended modifications involved turning grace into a license to sin. Grace is God's means of forgiving our sins, as well as transforming the sinner that he might sin less and less. Grace is not God's sanction by which we plan and excuse our personal indulgence.

This issue also appears in Romans, as some took God's grace in the same unwarranted direction. They started with a glorious truth. "Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more" (Romans 5:20). What a grand actuality this is! No matter how atrocious the extent of our sins, the grace of God unto forgiveness and transformation is far greater. Yet, how heinous is the licentious thought that more indulgence in sin would be a good thing, since such would only present further opportunities for more abounding grace. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" (Romans 6:1). The answer is a resounding negation. "Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Romans 6:2). Anticipated grace is never an excuse for planning to sin.

In Galatians, the converse problem of legalism is confronted. "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ" (Galatians 1:6-7). Here, some were trying to add law requirements to the good news of God's grace. This attempt to turn grace into a performance standard is described as a perversion, a grievous twisting, of grace. Whether license or legalism, both change and undermine the grace of God.

Dear gracious Master, I repent of any times I have used grace as an excuse for carnal indulgence or have treated Your grace as a call to religious performance. Thank You for Your forgiving and transforming grace. Grant me discernment and courage to earnestly contend for true grace, through Christ, my Lord, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - February 18

A Reminder Concerning the Word of God's Grace

The word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance…The word of the truth of the gospel…is bringing forth fruit…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Acts 20:32; Colossians 1:5-6; and Romans 10:17)

These three Scriptures, interspersed in our previous meditations, indicate how God wants to use His word to impact us with His grace. The first passage describes God's word as "the word of His grace." God explains His grace to us through His word. He offers His grace to us through His word. He works His grace within us as we are nurtured in His word, trusting in what the Lord has to say to us. As God's word is taken in, its capabilities are unleashed, demonstrating that it is "able to build you up and give you an inheritance." The believers at Thessalonica had such an experience with the Scriptures. "For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe" (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

The second passage declares that the word can produce fruitfulness in God's people. "The word of the truth of the gospel…is bringing forth fruit." Such fruit is the consequence of spiritual life maturing within us. Jesus taught that this life is brought to us by His word. "The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). The word of the Lord brings this life to us initially: "Having been born again…through the word of God which lives and abides forever" (1 Peter 1:23). God's word then nurtures the life it originally brought to us. "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2).

The third passage gives insight on faith, which is a vital element of living by grace. As we have seen, faith accesses grace. "We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Romans 5:2). Here in the third Scripture, we are told how faith develops in our lives. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." As we humbly receive God's word into our lives, our faith in His proclamations grows.

In light of these grand truths concerning the Scriptures, we would be wise to cultivate the same perspective that Job had toward God's word. "I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food" (Job 23:12).

O Lord of grace and truth, thank You for giving us Your word, which is grace and truth. Forgive me, Lord, for the times I have not cherished Your word as highly as I should. Everything that Your word can do, I am unable to do on my own. I cry out earnestly to You. Please work in me a deepening hunger for Your living and eternal word, in the name of Jesus, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - February 17

Once More on Grace and Good Works

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

In examining grace and good works, we are again seeing that God's grace is not only His willingness to forgive us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but it is also His resource for shaping and using our lives as believers.

God desires that we become amply engaged in good works, to glorify His name in the edifying of His people and the reaching of the lost. Although we are not saved by good works ("not of works, lest anyone should boast"-Ephesians 2:9), we are saved unto good works ("created in Christ Jesus for good works").

Our hope of abounding in good works rests upon the gracious working of God on our behalf. First, He remakes us through new birth in His Son: "created in Christ Jesus." Then, He continues to work on us. We do not shape ourselves into an instrument that the Lord can use. God willingly takes that responsibility upon Himself. "For we are His workmanship." God wants to shape our lives like a work of art, thoroughly crafting us in relationship to His purposes for each of our lives.

God's gracious work extends beyond new birth and subsequent fashioning. He even prepares the good works in which He wants us eventually to be engaged: "Created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand." Think of it. The Lord has already arranged the acts of service in which He intends for us to be occupied! Then, why are we not always involved in such good works? The answer is related to this phrase: "that we should walk in them." We do have a strategic responsibility in this process. We are to humbly and dependently walk with the Lord Jesus every day.

Jesus addressed this matter. "Then they said to Him, 'What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent'" (John 6:28-29). Exercising faith in the Lord is what brings us into the workings of God for our lives. This involves believing in His plan, as revealed in His word. This includes trusting that His will is best for us. This comprises walking in reliance upon Him, allowing Him to guide us each day into the appropriate good works. Such a response brings service empowered by grace, as seen in the early church. "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).

Creator of heaven and earth, I thank You for creating me anew in Christ Jesus. I praise You for Your ongoing work in me. Please shape me into an instrument You can use. Lord, forgive me when I am irresponsible through self-will or self-sufficiency. Lord, I want to humbly and dependently follow You each day, in the light of Your word, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - February 16

Even More on Grace and Good Works

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

When considering the connection between grace and good works, God's ability is the priority issue. "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you." The Lord intends for us to be the objects of His ever-flowing grace. Our God is fully capable of accomplishing such an outpouring of His grace.

The Lord desires to "make all grace abound toward you." He wants to impact our lives with every aspect of His grace ("all grace"). He has grace available in every category that we will ever need. He is ready to flood our lives with such grace ("abound toward you"). This term ("abound") could be depicted as compelling waves consistently rolling up on the seashore, leaving an inevitable imprint.

God's grace impacts humble, trusting hearts in such a manner, imparting all that is needed for effective service. "That you, always having all sufficiency in all things…." Whenever we place our dependence in the Lord, He supplies everything that is necessary ("all sufficiency") for everything He would have us to do ("in all things").

The immediate context relates this truth to financial provision; yet, the language goes far beyond any circumstantial limitation: "having all sufficiency in all things." This speaks of any need in any situation. If we need grace for biblical family life, it is included here. If we need grace for running a godly business, it is offered here. If we need grace for witnessing, it is included here. If we need grace for church ministry, it is extended here: "That you, always having all sufficiency in all things."

Our God is a bountiful Master, who loves to lavish His resources upon His servants: "That you…may have an abundance." However, this bounty is not for personal whim or carnal indulgence. It is for "every good work." God's abundance is for the furthering of His will here on earth. So we can be encouraged. If our desire is to serve our Lord, immeasurable spiritual treasures are available for our service.

This does not mean we are exempt from seasons of apparent lack. We have lessons to learn that must be taught during times of adversity as well as abundance. "I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:12-13).

O Lord, giver of every good and perfect gift, remind me to look to You for abounding grace in every trial and in every opportunity. Lord, I know that I need You in the delightful times, just as much as in the agonizing times. Use me for implementing Your will in this rebellious world. I praise You that finding the grace I need for serving You depends on Your ability, not mine. Pour out Your grace, I pray, in Jesus' name, Amen

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Day By Day By Grace - February 15

More on Grace and Good Works

From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed. And when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. (Acts 14:26-27)

When the Apostle Paul and his team left their home church of Antioch, they were "commended to the grace of God." The believers at Antioch trusted in the Lord to impart sufficient grace for this demanding mission.

What an amazing journey it was. They encountered a false prophet early in the trip, as they attempted to reach a local official. Paul boldly confronted his opponent, by the power of the Spirit. "O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?" (Acts 13:10). When the Lord struck this sorcerer blind, the civic leader believed.

Then, in Perga, Paul effectively preached the risen Christ in the synagogue. "And the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God" (Acts 13:44). When Jewish opposition arose, the team offered the gospel to the Gentiles. "Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord…And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region" (Acts 13:48-49).

Next, in Iconium, much fruit ensued, in spite of substantial opposition. "A great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace" (Acts 14:1-3).

Later, at Lystra, Paul was stoned by those who resisted the gospel. Yet, he would not be silent, continuing to Derbe and other towns. "And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned…strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith" (Acts 14:21-22).

Now the missionaries are back at their home church of Antioch. The work God intended was finished, because His grace brings His work to completion. "They had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed." Then, when they brought their report, they spoke of what God did, not what they did. "They reported all that God had done with them."

Dear Father, please teach me to rely upon Your grace for the tasks to which You are calling me. Lord, I too easily trust in myself, and end up with an unfinished job. Also, when the responsibilities are completed, may all glory go to You, and not to me, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - February 14

Grace and Good Works

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)

The grace of God is not only His dynamic for producing spiritual fruit in our lives, but it is also His means of developing good works in us as well. The Apostle Paul had a powerful testimony to this truth. Paul became an early church leader who was engaged in more good works than any other believer. "I labored more abundantly than they all."

No one worked harder in ministry than Paul did. He traveled the known world preaching the gospel. He discipled those who put their trust in the Lord Jesus. He gathered those believers into churches, often functioning as their initial pastor. Then, he would appoint leaders and even visit them on occasion for further encouragement and training. Additionally, he wrote major portions of the New Testament, typically while locked up in prison.

Yes, Paul "labored…abundantly." In another letter he wrote: "To this end I also labor, striving" (Colossians 1:29). Elsewhere he stated: "For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day…we preached to you the gospel of God" (1 Thessalonians 2:9). As he wrote the believers in Corinth he recalled: "Are they ministers of Christ…I am more: in labors more abundant…in journeys often…in weariness and toil" (2 Corinthians 11:23, 26-27).

How startling to learn that Paul was not the cause behind this wondrous effect. This is seen in his confession: "yet not I." Paul exerted himself for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. How can a man labor strenuously and yet not be the cause of it all? The answer is in the remainder of his testimony: "yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." God's grace at work in Paul's life was the effective dynamic that brought forth such godly labor here on earth. "But by the grace of God I am what I am." If we put our hope in the Lord, His grace will prove effective in our lives as well, giving us a testimony similar to Paul's: "and His grace toward me was not in vain."

Access to this transforming grace is once more linked to the two relational realities of humility and faith. Paul humbly admitted this fact: "yet not I." He also exercised faith in this corollary truth: "but the grace of God which was with me."

O God of all grace, I cry out to You to work Your grace in my life, producing abundant good works in me, as You did in Paul. Lord, I desire to labor in Your service. I am encouraged to see that I do not need to measure up to Paul myself. I need only to trust in Your grace, the same grace that was not vain in Paul's life. So, humbly confessing my inadequacy, I exercise faith in Your effective grace, in Jesus' holy name, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - February 13

Once More on Grace and Spiritual Fruit

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

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

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

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

"The fruit of the Spirit is… gentleness." Gentleness is explained by such terms as meekness and lowliness. Such quality of character takes on special significance when we recall these words of Jesus. "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:29).

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - February 12

Even More on Grace and Spiritual Fruit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - February 11

More on Grace and Spiritual Fruit

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." (John 15:4-5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - February 10

Grace and Spiritual Fruit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - February 9

Reflecting on Grace: Humility and Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - February 8

More on Faith and Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - February 7

Faith and Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - February 6

More on Humility and Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - February 5

Humility and Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

blueletterbible.com/devotion


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Day By Day By Grace - February 4

Living by Grace: Humility and Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

blueletterbible.com/devotion

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Day By Day By Grace - February 3

Access to Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

blueletterbible.com/devotion


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Day By Day By Grace - February 2

Grace Perfecting Strength in Weakness

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

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

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

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

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

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

blueletterbible.com/devotion


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Day By Day By Grace - February 1

Strengthened by Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

blueletterbible.com/devotion


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Day By Day By Grace - January 31

God's Grace Teaching Us

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:11-13)

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

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

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

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

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

blueletterbible.com/devotion


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Day By Day By Grace - January 30

The Ability of God's Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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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!

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - January 26

The Initial Grace of God

"I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more"…For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Jeremiah 31:34 and Ephesians 2:8-9)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - January 25

New Covenant Provided by the Blood of Christ

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

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

The new covenant is far more than forgiveness of sins. As previously indicated, the Scriptures reveal that the new covenant has three basic areas of blessings. First is the forgiveness of sins. "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more" (Hebrews 8:12). Second is an intimate relationship with the Lord. "All shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them" (Hebrews 8:11). Third is an internal work of God producing an increasingly godly life in and through us. "I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts" (Hebrews 8:10). The word of God further confirms that all of these grand blessings depend upon God's provision, not our performance. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God" (2 Corinthians 3:5).

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

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

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

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"To God be the glory!!"


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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!

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"To God be the glory!!"


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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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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - January 22

The New and Living Way

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us. (Hebrews 10:19-20)

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

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

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

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

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

The Apostle Paul wrote profoundly concerning such "newness." "But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter" (Romans 7:6). This is the "new and living way." This will never "get old."

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

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"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.

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"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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"To God be the glory!!"


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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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"To God be the glory!!"


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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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"To God be the glory!!"


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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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"To God be the glory!!"


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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.

blueletterbible.com/devotion


"To God be the glory!!"


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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.

blueletterbible.com/devotion


"To God be the glory!!"


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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!

blueletterbible.com/devotion


"To God be the glory!!"


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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.

blueletterbible.com/devotion



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