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7/3/15 6:17 A

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Day By Day By Grace - July 3

The Father Promising His Messiah as a Covenant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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"To God be the glory!!"


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7/2/15 9:31 A

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Day By Day By Grace - July 2

God Promising a Unique King

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

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

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

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

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

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

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"To God be the glory!!"


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6/30/15 11:19 P

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Day By Day By Grace - July 1

God Promising an Anointed King

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

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

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

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

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

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

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"To God be the glory!!"


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6/30/15 7:25 A

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Day By Day By Grace - June 30

God Promising an Everlasting Kingdom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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"To God be the glory!!"


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6/29/15 6:11 A

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Day By Day By Grace - June 29

God's Promise to Fight for His People

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

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

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

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

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

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

blueletterbible.com/devotion



"To God be the glory!!"


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6/28/15 7:36 A

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Day By Day By Grace - June 28

God's Promise to Deliver Israel

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

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

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

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

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

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

blueletterbible.com/devotion



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6/27/15 9:49 A

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Day By Day By Grace - June 27

God's Promises to Abraham

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

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

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

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

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

blueletterbible.com/devotion


"To God be the glory!!"


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6/26/15 8:29 A

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Day By Day By Grace - June 26

Promises Concerning the Flood

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

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

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

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

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

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6/25/15 9:22 A

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Day By Day By Grace - June 25

Our God of Promises

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

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

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

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

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

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

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6/24/15 7:44 A

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Day By Day By Grace - June 24

Promises Based on the Will of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

blueletterbible.com/devotion

"To God be the glory!!"


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6/23/15 8:24 A

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Day By Day By Grace - June 23

Promises to God Based on Promises from God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - June 22

Permissible Promises Made to God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - June 21

The Inability of God to Lie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - June 20

Man's Promises or God's Promises

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - June 19

Better Promises under Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - June 18

More on Substance, not Shadows, under Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - June 17

Substance, not Shadows, under Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - June 16

A Greater Intimacy under Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - June 15

A Better Sacrifice under Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - June 14

A Better High Priest under Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - June 13

The Better Aspects of the New Covenant of Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - June 12

More Reflections on Obedience by God's Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - June 11

Reflections on Obedience by God's Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - June 10

God Glorified by Working Obedience in Us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - June 9.

God Working in Us What Pleases Him

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - June 8

God Equipping Us to Do His Will

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - June 7

The God of Peace Making Obedience Available to Us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - June 6

God Working in Us Both to Will and to Do

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

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

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

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

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

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - June 5

God Working in Us unto Obedience

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

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

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

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

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

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - June 4

Obedience and the Life of Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - June 3

Obedience and the Lordship of Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - June 2

The Work of the Holy Spirit unto Obedience

"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 36:27)

When we placed our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we were born again. We were made new 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). We received a new spiritual heart, as promised of old. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you" (Ezekiel 36:26).

Now, how does a new creature in Christ grow in a life of obedience? Our natural thinking might assume that a Christian could grow in obedience by simply doing his best to walk in the will of God. The next verse in Ezekiel's prophecy reveals that God has a better plan in mind. "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes." The born again follower of Jesus is not designed to operate on his own best efforts. The Holy Spirit is to be the heavenly dynamic in developing a life of obedience.

A disobedient life would include attitudes and actions that our fallen physical bodies naturally crave. These are to be taken to the cross, to be rendered as crucified with Christ. "Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience" (Colossians 3:5-6). The Holy Spirit wants to enable us to respond properly concerning such carnal desires. "If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live" (Romans 8:13). These fallen, natural cravings are described as the "lusts of the flesh" in Galatians. They are overcome as we yield to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. "Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16).

Again, this work of the Holy Spirit is not automatic or "robotic." Rather, it is a relational matter. It is realized in our lives through humble dependence. It is possible to suppress the work of the Holy Spirit in us. "Do not quench the Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 5:19). It is when we depend upon the Holy Spirit to lead us in the path of obedience that we will truly live as obedient children of God. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Romans 8:14).

Lord God of my salvation, I desire to walk in obedience to You. I confess that I often rely upon my own resources, attempting to produce obedience. Lord, please work deep in my heart by the power of Your Holy Spirit and lead me in paths of righteousness, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - June 1

The New Covenant Promise of 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)

To live in obedience to the will of God, man needs more than his own best efforts and intentions. The history of Israel emphatically demonstrates this. God gave His law. He commanded them, saying, "Walk in My statutes, keep My judgments, and do them" (Ezekiel 20:19). Israel had promised to obey. "All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient" (Exodus 24:7). Nevertheless, they failed miserably. "Notwithstanding, the children rebelled against Me; they did not walk in My statutes, and were not careful to observe My judgments" (Ezekiel 20:21).

In order to live obedient lives, people need a new life from God, followed by an understanding in how to develop that new life. Here, we see a promise from God to supply that new life. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you." These promises are related to the new covenant of grace that the prophets proclaimed for Israel some day. "Behold, the days are coming…when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel…not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt" (Jeremiah 31:31-32). The book of Hebrews elaborates on this new covenant of grace and applies it to the church today: "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).

When anyone embraces the grace of God offered in Jesus Christ (the mediator, the great High Priest of the new covenant), that person is born again by the Spirit of God. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6). This is a necessity. "Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Human "flesh-birth" brings with it a hard spiritual heart (a dead spirit). Spiritual new birth from God replaces this hard heart (this dead, non-responsive spirit). "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you." Think of our desperate need for this work of God that brings us a new heart, a new life. Those not born again are described as living "in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God… because of the hardening of their heart" (Ephesians 4:17-18). Yet, whoever relies upon the grace of God offered in Jesus Christ becomes a new-born child of God. "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).

Dear Lord, giver of new life, I praise You for replacing my old, hard, dead heart with a new, responsive, living heart. Now I long to grow in the newness of Christ, Amen

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Day By Day By Grace - May 31

Israel's Response to the Law's Demand

Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, "All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient"…Today you have proclaimed the LORD to be your God, and that you will walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments, and His judgments, and that you will obey His voice. (Exodus 24:7 and Deuteronomy 26:17)

God's law demands wholehearted obedience. "This day the LORD your God commands you to observe these statutes and judgments; therefore you shall be careful to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deuteronomy 26:16). When the Israelites heard this summary requirement of the law, they confidently promised that they would obey. "Today you have proclaimed the LORD to be your God, and that you will walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments, and His judgments, and that you will obey His voice." Forty years earlier, when the Lord first gave His law to His people, they responded in a similar fashion. "Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, 'All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient.'"

Their intentions were certainly commendable. However, their performance was definitely unacceptable. Even before they had departed from the mountain where the law was given, they plunged into disobedience. "They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it" (Exodus 32:8). Soon after the death of Joshua (who led them into the Promised Land), they repeatedly rebelled against the Lord their God. The book of Judges documents this clearly: "And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD" (3:12); "And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD" (4:1); "Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD" (6:1); "Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD" (10:6).

Twelve hundred years later, Stephen would summarize Israel's history of disobedience. "You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you" (Acts 7:51). What a sobering evaluation of those who were so confident of obeying the law of God.

Dear Father, I humbly bow before You, confessing that I am so often like the children of Israel. I confidently promise to live in obedience to Your will. Then, I quickly stray from Your path and indulge my own will. Thank You for Your forgiving grace. Yet, I earnestly cry out for more. I need Your transforming grace to renew my inner man unto increasing obedience to You, through Jesus, my Lord, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - May 30

The Old Covenant Demand of Obedience

And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?…This day the LORD your God commands you to observe these statutes and judgments; therefore you shall be careful to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 10:12-13 and 26:16)

As we saw in our previous meditation, the grace of God provides what we need for growing in a life of obedience. Now we will begin to see that God's law demands obedience (whole-hearted obedience), but it does not provide the necessary spiritual resources for living an obedient life.

When Israel was about to enter the Promised Land, Moses restated what God's law required. "And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but…to walk in all His ways… and to keep the commandments of the LORD…therefore you shall be careful to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul." Remember, the commandments of God called for holy living. "You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy" (Leviticus 19:2). The measurement for this required holiness was God Himself. This represented a high and lofty standard, far beyond what man could reach on his own.

Additionally, God was not calling them to an external religious behaviorism, but to wholehearted obedience: "keep the commandments…observe them with all your heart." From deep within their innermost being, the children of Israel were to fully obey the Lord. They were to truly and sincerely observe all that the Lord had commanded. There were to be no inner reservations or hesitations.

What the law demanded was good. "The law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good" (Romans 7:12). Yet, the resources were lacking. Man could not measure up on his own. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Furthermore, this perfect law offered no help to change man into what it required. "The law made nothing perfect" (Hebrews 7:19a). Praise God, there is a provision that can accomplish what the law cannot do. "On the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope" (Hebrews 7:19b). That effective hope is the grace of God.

Lord God of holiness, I bow to Your holy law as good and just. I desire to live what the law demands. Yet, I confess my failures, as well as my inadequacy to improve myself. I rejoice in Your better hope. By Your grace, please shape my heart into a life of growing obedience, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - May 29

Obedience under the New Covenant of Grace

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

Obedience is a vital issue for every believer. Throughout the Scriptures we see that God's desire is for His children to walk in obedience. Moses wrote of this truth. "You shall obey the voice of the LORD your God, and observe His commandments and His statutes which I command you today" (Deuteronomy 27:10). Samuel confirmed this truth. "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice" (1 Samuel 15:22). Likewise, the Apostle Peter declared that God's children are to live "as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts" (1 Peter 1:14).

Our lives are to be under the rule (the dominion) of God's will revealed in His word. When we are disobedient to God's will, sin is dominating our lives. The Lord certainly wants us to get out from under the domination of sin and to live obediently. The only path for such liberation is the grace of God. "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace" (Romans 6:14). Man might think that the law could free us from the dominating influence of sin. If we had laws with radical standards and severe consequences, surely man would not go on sinning. Of course, this approach does not work. No standards are as lofty as the holy law of God. No consequences are more severe than violating God's law. Yet, men still are dominated by sin. Grace is God's remedy.

A reactionary apprehension can develop against God's liberating remedy of grace. Some think that proclaiming grace as the solution will only encourage people to sin all the more and even wrongly assume that this will unleash more grace. The opposite is actually true. When God's children embrace the wonder of what His grace provides (an effective rescue from sin through our identification with the death and resurrection of Christ), we see the folly of continuing in sin. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism 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 6:1-4). By God's grace at work, growing in this new life means growing in obedience.

Lord God of liberating grace, I want to grow in obedience. I long to be increasingly free from the influence of sin. Lord, I know that my best effort to be holy will not be sufficient. Strengthen me by Your grace to walk in Your will, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - May 28

Temporary Visible Things, Eternal Invisible Things

For our light affliction—is working for us—[an] eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

Our gracious God wants to use the trials in our lives ("our light affliction") to produce for us eternal blessings ("eternal weight of glory"). He intends to use our daily difficulties to enlarge our spiritual capacity to experience more fully the glorious eternal realities of knowing, worshiping, and serving God forever! The Lord desires a full, rich inheritance to await us in heaven: "For so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:11).

A life of great difficulty here on earth does not guarantee enriched experience in heaven. The process of earthly trials producing heavenly blessings is not automatic for God's children. Verse 18 tells us exactly when this process is occurring: "while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen." The difficulties of life are turned to eternal blessings "while" we turn our attention upon unseen realities.

Many believers waste their afflictions by focusing upon "the things which are seen." They set their minds on themselves, their circumstances, or some conventional human wisdom. Such an approach to life's problems fosters temporal frustrations, not eternal blessings. To accrue eternal benefits from temporal situations, we must look to unseen eternal resources, because "the things which are not seen are eternal."

What are these unseen things? They are the resources of the grace of God. This includes grace for consolation and hope: "Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has…given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace" (2 Thessalonians 2:16). This also includes grace for endurance: "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Corinthians 12:9). It actually includes "grace upon grace" (John 1:16) for whatever is needed.

All of this is available through daily dependence upon the Lord. "For we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). The Christian life is lived by faith in the Lord, not by mastery of observable circumstances. God's people enter into His blessings by trusting in Him. It is by looking to the grace of God during our difficulties that afflictions are turned into an "eternal weight of glory."

Lord God of abundant grace, I confess that I have frequently wasted my afflictions by concentrating upon temporal things—very often focusing upon myself. Please help me to look to the resources of Your unfailing grace, that my trials might have eternal, heavenly significance. Through Christ Jesus, I pray, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - May 27

Momentary Light Afflictions, Eternal Weight of Glory

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. (2 Corinthians 4:17)

Believers in Jesus Christ are "ministers [servants] of the new covenant" (2 Corinthians 3:6). We serve God by His grace, experiencing it and passing it on to others. "For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God" (2 Corinthians 4:15). One astounding privilege of living and serving by grace is that our momentary light afflictions can be producing for us an eternal weight of glory!

Having our temporal difficulties "working for us" is a new, heavenly perspective on afflictions. People generally consider their afflictions as something that is working against them, not for them. Yet, afflictions can work for good, and the good is even eternal! What a gracious plan is revealed in this contrast: "light affliction… for a moment" and "eternal weight of glory."

First, consider that heavenly enjoyment of God's "glory" can result from our earthly experiences of "affliction." The difficulties that we endure here on earth can prepare us for opportunities to enter into more glorious fellowship, worship, and service of the Lord in heaven. (Our next meditation will examine how this works.)

Then, consider that our afflictions are "light" compared to the "weight" of the glories that lie ahead. This does not mean that our trials on earth are trivial. Note the "light afflictions" that Paul encountered. "In journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness-besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches" (2 Corinthians 11:26-28). Yet, Paul counted these as light when compared to the "substantial magnitude" of the glory awaiting him in heaven.

Last, consider that the difficulties of life are "but for a moment," whereas, the resulting heavenly blessings are "eternal." Trials often seem as though they will never end. Yet, they eventually pass away. Actually, it is the heavenly glory that results from the trials that will never end.

What an amazing plan God has! He wants to use the trials of our lives to enlarge our spiritual capacity to enter more fully into the glory of knowing Him, worshiping Him, and serving Him forever and forever!

Eternal Father, give me more and more of this perspective on afflictions. Help me to see them as potentially productive in an eternal sense. Remind me that my trials are momentary and light, considering the eternal weight of glory they can produce, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - May 26

Outer Man Perishing, Inner Man Renewed

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)

Those who learn to live by the grace of God are increasingly protected from discouragement. "Therefore we do not lose heart." This truth was touched upon in an earlier verse from this fourth chapter of 2 Corinthians. "Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart" (2 Corinthians 4:1). The protection from discouragement there involved mercy and grace. Since we serve the Lord by mercy and grace (and not by our merit or by our resources), we have a built-in supply of heavenly encouragement available to us daily.

In our present verse, encouragement comes from the contrast between what is happening to the "outward man" and to the "inward man." The "outward man" is the physical person, which can be observed by human sight. This is generally the object of attention among the unredeemed (as well as among believers who are walking according to the flesh). This man is "perishing" because sin has impacted all of us. "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). Man began from dust. "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground" (Genesis 2:7). Due to sin, the outer, physical man is headed back toward that initial starting point. "In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:19). For those who do not know the Lord, this is a discouraging fact. They often strive desperately to prevent this inevitable process.

On the other hand, servants of new covenant grace are not discouraged by this fact. "Therefore we do not lose heart." It is true that our outer man is also perishing. Yet, we see a bigger picture than that. "Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day." As our outer man is deteriorating, we are still encouraged, because our inner man can be in the process of renewal: "And have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him" (Colossians 3:10). As we are humbly seeking the Lord in His word, we are being changed, brought more and more into the newness of Christ: "Beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

O Lord, as my outer man deteriorates, remind me of the encouraging reality that my inner man can be renewed. Help me to desire inner spiritual progress, rather than outer physical prowess. This I pray through Christ, my Lord, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - May 25

Encouragement for Others, Glory for God

So then death is working in us, but life in you…For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:12 and 15)

We who live under the new covenant of grace are earthen vessels. We have no true spiritual life in ourselves. "You have no life in you" (John 6:53). The treasure who lives within us (Jesus) is our daily source of spiritual life: "Christ who is our life" (Colossians 3:4). Consequently, we must always be dying in order to live. We must be embracing the cross of Christ so that our bankrupt self-life will not be our resource for living. We must look to the Lord as our sufficiency.

The Lord helps us in this process by putting us into impossible situations that necessitate our dependence upon Him. He faithfully responds to our trust and manifests Himself through us. "For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh" (2 Corinthians 4:11). Others observing this receive encouragement to look to the Lord for the life they need. Thus, Paul could write to the Corinthians (who were aware of this process in his life): "So then death is working in us, but life in you."

Every difficulty that God brings into our lives not only has significance for us, but it can also have an impact on those to whom we are ministering. "For all things are for your sakes." How important it is to have a perspective on life that includes God working in us that He might touch others. Paul certainly viewed life and ministry in this manner. "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you…Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all…Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory" (Colossians 1:24; Philippians 2:17; Ephesians 3:13).

As the Lord works His grace into and through our lives, grace can be spreading to many other lives: "that grace, having spread through the many." When God's grace is at work in people's hearts, thanksgiving is so often the beautiful fruit that results. Such thanksgiving brings much glory and honor to God: "may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God."

My God and Father, teach me to handle trials in a way that will encourage people to trust in You. I want to touch others with life, as I am dying circumstantially. Please make my life a vessel through which You cause Your grace to spread to many lives. May much thanksgiving result, all to Your honor and glory, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - May 24

An Action Carried Out Toward Earthen Vessels

For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. (2 Corinthians 4:11)

The treasure who lives within us (Jesus) is to get glory and honor as we trust Him to live in, and be manifested through, the vessels of our humanity. "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us" (2 Corinthians 4:7). Our previous meditation reminded us that we are to embrace an attitude of "death to self" that facilitates this plan: "Always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body" (2 Corinthians 4:10). In addition, there is an action carried out toward earthen vessels that also advances this great purpose of God. This matter is also about dying in order to live.

This action is taken toward earthen vessels: "we who live." We who have found new life in Christ are the ones who are "delivered to death." Our God places us into (or allows us to be put in) situations that are far more than we can handle. Even the Apostle Paul had to undergo this action taken toward him. "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" (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). This was not an isolated incident. Paul was frequently in such impossibilities. "From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep" (2 Corinthians 11:24-25).

Since we are earthen vessels, this is the way life unfolds. Clay pots are characteristically inadequate and vulnerable. Consequently, the situations that our all-loving and all-wise Father leads us into are consistently like being "delivered to death." However, this action toward us is "for Jesus' sake." In the continual impossibilities confronting us, Jesus has repeated opportunities to manifest Himself. Our heavenly Father places us in circumstances we cannot handle by our own resources. We cry out to the Lord, putting our hope and trust in Him. He faithfully goes to work in us. The result is "that the life of Jesus [is] manifested in our mortal flesh."

Dear heavenly Father, forgive me for the many times I resist Your delivering me over to death. You know that I prefer it when I can handle the events that come my way. Remind me to view my impossibilities as Jesus' opportunities to manifest Himself in and through the vessel of my life. This I humbly ask, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - May 23

An Attitude Carried About by Earthen Vessels

Always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. (2 Corinthians 4:10)

As earthen vessels, we are to live by trusting in the treasure (the Lord Jesus) who dwells within us: "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels" (2 Corinthians 4:7). Also, we are to give Him all honor and glory as He sustains us day by day through the trials of life: "that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us." In addition, to help us magnify the treasure who lives in us, there is to be an attitude (an outlook) carried about (embraced) by the earthen vessels.

The particular attitude that results in magnifying the treasure is the perspective we hold concerning the death of Christ: "Always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus." This is about dying in order to live. Jesus taught this. "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it" (Luke 9:24). Those who hold on to the life they received from Adam lose what they are trying to guard and develop. They never find true life. However, all who renounce their sinful natural life and trust in Jesus find a new life from Him. This is the attitude that followers of Christ are to carry with them. "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Luke 9:23). Day by day, our perspective is to include a rejection of any life that we could produce on our own ("deny himself"). We are to agree with God that the self life always deserves the cross of Christ ("take up his cross daily"). This leaves us with only one option: pursue after Jesus for the life He alone can provide ("and follow Me").

Such confessions are in harmony with what actually happened to us at the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism (that is, through 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). When we placed our trust in the Lord, His death and resurrection became our death and resurrection! This is to be our confidence continually. "Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:11).

When we carry about this attitude, we are actually trusting the Lord Jesus (the treasure who dwells within us) to live in and through our "earthen vessels," our humanity: "that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body."

Dear Lord, I want to carry about with me Your dying. I want to embrace all that Your cross proclaims and provides. Thank You for dying in my place. I rejoice that I died there with You. Now, I ask You to live in and through me day by day, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - May 22

The Process that Magnifies the Treasure

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:7-9)

New covenant servants (followers of Jesus Christ) are "earthen vessels" (ordinary clay pots). Yet, in the container of their redeemed humanity dwells "this treasure" (the Son of God Himself). This arrangement calls for the treasure (Jesus), not the vessels (you and me), to be the object of all trust and the recipient of all glory: "that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us." Appropriately, the Lord has also arranged a process that magnifies the treasure.

This process involves the every day pressures of life, which come from all sides. "We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed." Clay pots cannot withstand much pressure, but the treasure within us (Christ) is able to keep us from being smashed. "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 2:1)

The process that draws attention to the treasure also involves many perplexities. "We are perplexed, but not in despair." We face difficult decisions and impossible issues, but our Wonderful Counselor protects us from hopelessness: "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3).

Persecutions are included in the process: "persecuted, but not forsaken." People accuse us, misunderstand us, or lie about us. Still, we know we are not abandoned by our Lord who lives within us. "For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'" (Hebrews 13:5).

Even catastrophes are a part of the process that magnifies the treasure who indwells us: "struck down, but not destroyed." Circumstantial upheavals and overwhelming heartaches occur, but the Lord stabilizes our souls. "They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the LORD was my support" (Psalm 18:18).

Thus, life comes at us like an overpowering military tank, ready to flatten us. There is no natural hope, because clay pots can't handle tanks. Yet, as the dust clears, the flower pot of our lives can remain intact (if we are trusting in the able and faithful one who lives in our hearts). There is no attacking tank that can overcome the Lord Jesus Christ. "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).

Lord Jesus, You are my indwelling treasure. When pressures, perplexities, persecutions, or catastrophes come my way, teach me to trust in You. When others ask how I am sustained through these difficulties, remind me to give all glory and honor to You. In Your name I pray, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - May 21

The Power within Redeemed Earthen Vessels

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

In our previous meditation on this same verse, we saw that God has placed extraordinary heavenly treasure in ordinary earthen vessels. "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels." This is true of every person who has been redeemed by the blood of Christ. The Lord has arranged it this way so that the vessels (you and I) must rely upon the treasure (Jesus Christ), not upon ourselves: "that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us." Also, this arrangement is to bring attention and glory to the Lord, not to the vessels.

The Lord is the treasure in the "clay pot" of our redeemed humanity. He is to be the "excellent power" in our lives. He is the one we are to trust in as our strength for daily living. When the battles become fierce, trust in the Lord. "You have armed me with strength for the battle" (Psalm 18:39). When we need patience or endurance, trust in the Lord: "Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy" (Colossians 1:11). When we need strength for our latter years, trust in the Lord. "The LORD has kept me alive…here I am this day, eighty-five years old…yet I am as strong this day as I was on the day that Moses sent me" (Joshua 14:10-11). Even in times of extreme personal weakness, His strength can be especially apparent. "I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me…For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

The temptation is to trust in our "sturdy structure" (or in those who claim to be able to strengthen or reinforce weak vessels). Our personal resources will fail, but the Lord who dwells in our hearts will not fail. "My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Psalm 73:26). The world system with all of its impressive riches calls us to place our confidence in its resources. The Lord warns us that such misplaced trust becomes our downfall. "Woe to the rebellious children…who…go down to Egypt…to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh…the strength of Pharaoh shall be your shame" (Isaiah 30:1-3).

We are to trust the Lord to be our strength. "The LORD is my strength and my shield" (Psalm 28:7a). Then, we are to give the Lord glory for the strength He supplies. "My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him" (Psalm 28:7b).

O Lord, the strength of my life, forgive me for relying upon myself and for looking to worldly resources. I want to place all of my trust in Jesus, the treasure who lives within me. May all glory be unto Him, in His mighty name, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - May 20

Heavenly Treasure in Earthen Vessels

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

We who serve the Lord under His new covenant of grace live with heavenly treasure in earthen vessels. We are "earthen vessels." Though we are born again through faith in Christ, we still have the same physical body that we had in Adam. "For we know that if our earthly house, this tent [that is, our natural human body], is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands [that is, our glorified, heavenly bodies], eternal in the heavens" (2 Corinthians 5:1). Though we are new creatures in Christ, we still live in the framework of ordinary human lives. "The life which I now live in the flesh [that is, in flesh and bones humanity], I live by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20).

Yes, we are "earthen vessels." We are frail, vulnerable, inadequate. We were originally fashioned from dust. "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground" (Genesis 2:7). We could be likened to "clay pots." "Remember, I pray, that You have made me like clay" (Job 10:9). We are like common clay flower pots. This is humbling. However, it is good to be humbled, for "God gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). Furthermore, the Lord fully understands our makeup. "He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust" (Psalm 103:14). It is also liberating to realize that we are vessels of clay. The Lord does not expect us to perform as though we were anything other than clay pots. He just wants us to be what a vessel is created to be-a container for its intended contents.

The intended contents of the vessel is a heavenly treasure. "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels." A few verses later the treasure is specified. It is Christ Himself: "That the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh" (2 Corinthians 4:11). The will of God is that Christ would come to dwell in, and be expressed through, the earthen vessel of our humanity. "To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). The Lord Jesus wants to be the heavenly blooming flower in the clay pot of our lives. "For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing" (2 Corinthians 2:15). God's plan is to put extraordinary heavenly treasure into ordinary earthen vessels, so that the attention will go to the contents, not to the container: "that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us."

Creator God, You have made me to be a vessel in whom Christ might dwell and be seen. Please remind me of this great plan. Help me to remember that the heavenly treasure is to be the focal point and the hope of my life, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - May 19

Our Message in Ministry

Lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. (2 Corinthians 4:4b-5)

The enemy of men's souls wants to keep perishing people in spiritual blindness. "But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe." (2 Corinthians 4:3-4a). This counterfeit god is working on all unbelievers (even as he formerly did with us). "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" (Ephesians 2:2). His influence is so extensive. He works through every system (political, economic, educational, etc.) within the unbelieving world. "The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one" (1 John 5:19). The primary purpose of Satan's blinding activities is to keep those in darkness from seeing God's light: "Lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them."

Into this dark and blinded world, we come with the message of light: "the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ." Only the light of Jesus can overcome spiritual darkness. Our Lord proclaimed this wondrous remedy: "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (John 8:12). When the light of Jesus shines into man's darkness, it brings liberating life from God. Paul was sent out with this great gospel: "To open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God" (Acts 26:18).

We are also sent out as vessels of light. "You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14). We are light, because Jesus (the true light) lives in, and can shine through, each of us. "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8). We can show forth our Lord in deed and in word. As we follow Jesus, His glorious light shines through us. As we speak of Jesus, we declare His glorious majesty.

Remember, the light of the gospel is about the glory of Jesus: "The light of the gospel of the glory of Christ." Our message is not about us. "For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." We are but His servants. He is our message. He is the Lord over all. Thus, He is able to save from all that blinds and binds.

Dear Lord of glory, I praise You for Your glory. I thank You for bringing me the light of life. O Lord, may Your glory shine in my walk and my words. Please make my message about Your glory, not about my flesh, in Your holy name, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - May 18

Our Message in Ministry

Lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. (2 Corinthians 4:4b-5)

The enemy of men's souls wants to keep perishing people in spiritual blindness. "But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe." (2 Corinthians 4:3-4a). This counterfeit god is working on all unbelievers (even as he formerly did with us). "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" (Ephesians 2:2). His influence is so extensive. He works through every system (political, economic, educational, etc.) within the unbelieving world. "The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one" (1 John 5:19). The primary purpose of Satan's blinding activities is to keep those in darkness from seeing God's light: "Lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them."

Into this dark and blinded world, we come with the message of light: "the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ." Only the light of Jesus can overcome spiritual darkness. Our Lord proclaimed this wondrous remedy: "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (John 8:12). When the light of Jesus shines into man's darkness, it brings liberating life from God. Paul was sent out with this great gospel: "To open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God" (Acts 26:18).

We are also sent out as vessels of light. "You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14). We are light, because Jesus (the true light) lives in, and can shine through, each of us. "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8). We can show forth our Lord in deed and in word. As we follow Jesus, His glorious light shines through us. As we speak of Jesus, we declare His glorious majesty.

Remember, the light of the gospel is about the glory of Jesus: "The light of the gospel of the glory of Christ." Our message is not about us. "For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." We are but His servants. He is our message. He is the Lord over all. Thus, He is able to save from all that blinds and binds.

Dear Lord of glory, I praise You for Your glory. I thank You for bringing me the light of life. O Lord, may Your glory shine in my walk and my words. Please make my message about Your glory, not about my flesh, in Your holy name, Amen.

blueletterbible.com/devotion



"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - May 17

Those We Hope to Reach through Ministry

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4a)

In this servants-of-grace ministry God has given us, He wants to use us to reach people. These people are in a desperate spiritual condition. Those we hope to reach are perishing, spiritually blind, and unbelieving.

Those who do not know the grace of God in Jesus Christ are "perishing." They are spiritually dead (just as we once were). "And you…were dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). Even worse, they are heading toward an everlasting death. "The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:13-15).

These who are dead (and facing everlasting death) are lost. They are wandering from the fold of God, taking a path of self-service. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6). They need a shepherd to seek after them. "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 15:4; 19:10).

These perishing and lost ones are also spiritually "blinded." This is why they cannot "see" the truth we share with them. "But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded." The false god of this world (Satan) is blinding people to the truth by feeding them with lies and deceptions. He is constantly offering counterfeit philosophical and religious messages to keep men from embracing the truth.

Ultimately, the problem with perishing, lost, and blind people is that they "do not believe." Consequently, they already stand guilty. "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18). However, a loving God has provided the remedy. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). By God's grace, we can proclaim this great message.

Dear Lord, thank You for all that You did to rescue me from among the perishing, the blind, and the unbelieving. I rejoice now in faith toward You! Open my eyes to see the desperate condition of those all around me, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - May 16

Our Approach to Ministry

We have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 4:2)

God has made us His servants under the new covenant of grace. "God…made us…ministers of the new covenant" (2 Corinthians 3:5-6). Those who desire to serve the Lord by grace have a very distinctive approach to ministry. "We have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully."

It is so sad that many ministry approaches in the church world include motives and methodologies that are kept hidden, because their true character is shameful. Some of these dishonorable approaches involve "walking in craftiness" (such as, manipulating people through carnal enticements). Others involve "handling the word of God deceitfully" (such as, preaching what people want to hear, instead of what the Scriptures actually say). If we are going to serve God by grace, we must reject such tactics.

Instead, we want to serve God "by manifestation of the truth." We minister by a candid declaration of God's truth, not by a deceptive operation of man's tricks. Also, we desire that our lives be a commendation of our message, not a contradiction of it: "commending ourselves to every man's conscience." As we proclaim God's truth, we humbly ask God to impact our lives by that truth, in order to become an example of what we preach. The Lord will use this to touch others deep in their consciences.

It is God's will that our ministries impact more than men's minds (which can be reached by mere ideas, concepts, or systems). It is His intention that our testimonies reach beyond men's emotions (which can be touched by exciting stories, condemning insinuations, or inspiring ideals). He certainly does not want us to appeal to people's pride ("let God make you someone others will envy") or to their covetousness ("give to our ministry, and God will give you ten-fold in return"). Rather, God desires to reach their consciences, that "image-of-God" imprint that convicts people of sin and of their need for God: "who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness" (Romans 2:15).

O God of truth and holiness, I long to serve You by grace. I renounce any manipulating of people or any distorting of Your word. Make my life a vessel of honor that confirms Your truth. As I minister to others, touch them deep in their hearts, by the power of Your grace, stirring them to seek after You, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - May 15

Once More on Bondage versus Liberty

Abraham had two sons…which…are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage…and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children—but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all…So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free. Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. (Galatians 4:22-5:1)

In our present verses, the two sons of Abraham are in view. "Abraham had two sons." Although these boys (Ishmael and Isaac) were actual historical characters, they represent a spiritual allegory: "which…are symbolic." These two sons provide a vivid historical illustration of law and grace. "For these are the two covenants."

Ishmael, the first of Abraham's sons, pictures a life of self-sufficiency under the law: "the one from Mount Sinai." Such an approach to life produces spiritual bondage: "which gives birth to bondage." The citizens of earthly Jerusalem are also given as an example: "and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children." When Paul wrote Galatians, the Roman empire held the city of Jerusalem in oppressive bondage. Abraham and Sarah trusted in their human ingenuity, using Hagar to bear their child. Thus, Ishmael was born, a child of fleshly bondage.

This is what our lives are like when we try to produce a Christian life by our own sufficiency. We are placing ourselves under the law (performance-based living). This is a path of spiritual bondage. We can only bring forth "fleshly Ishmaels."

Isaac, the second of Abraham's sons, is a portrait of living under grace. God's sufficiency is now the source. Isaac was born by God's faithfulness in fulfilling His promises. Trusting in God's faithfulness produces spiritual freedom. Heavenly Jerusalem is the example here. "The Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all." We who follow Christ have been born again with new life from above. New Jerusalem is the "hometown" to which we are headed. Spiritual freedom characterizes such citizens from above. "So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free." The Lord calls us to live by the liberating grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, renouncing all inclinations toward the bondage of self-sufficient legalism. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage."

Dear God of all faithfulness, forgive me for all the "Ishmaels" that I have birthed by trusting in myself. That has always produced bondage. I want to live by Your grace, trusting in Your faithfulness, walking thereby in true spiritual liberty. Through Christ I pray, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - May 14

Liberty to be Transformed

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Living day by day under the new covenant of grace embraces the spiritually liberating work of the Holy Spirit. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Corinthians 3:17). When the Holy Spirit is relied upon, there is liberty to be transformed.

This transformation process is for every believer who lives by the terms of the new covenant: "But we all." The terms are simple: renounce self-sufficiency ("Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves"-2 Corinthians 3:5a) and rely on God's sufficiency ("but our sufficiency is from God"-2 Corinthians 3:5b). Those who reject human resources (the flesh) seek God "with unveiled face." They come humbly, without any veils of pretense or self-justification.

Coming to the Lord in this manner brings an ongoing blessing: "beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord." Three mirrors reflect the glory of Christ from heavenly places into the experience of the redeemed here on earth: the creation, the church, and the Scriptures. The universe declares His glory. "The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork" (Psalm 19:1). Also, the Lord can be seen living in His people. "For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh" (2 Corinthians 4:11). These two mirrors are helpful, but they can be distorted by sin. The mirror that reflects the Lord's glory flawlessly is His word. "The law of the LORD is perfect…these [the Scriptures] are they which testify of Me" (Psalm 19:7; John 5:39).

As we humbly seek the Lord in His word, we behold His glory therein. The wonderful consequence is that we "are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory." From one area after another, from one degree to another, we are being changed into the likeness of the glorious Savior we are beholding. This process is carried on as only the Holy Spirit could do it: "just as by the Spirit of the Lord."

Dear Heavenly Father, I long to be more like Your Son. Forgive me for neglect of Your word. Please draw me consistently to the Scriptures, that I might humbly behold the glory of Jesus. Thank You for the work of Your Spirit, who is able to transform me into a growing Christlikeness, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - May 13

Liberty to be Transformed

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Living day by day under the new covenant of grace embraces the spiritually liberating work of the Holy Spirit. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Corinthians 3:17). When the Holy Spirit is relied upon, there is liberty to be transformed.

This transformation process is for every believer who lives by the terms of the new covenant: "But we all." The terms are simple: renounce self-sufficiency ("Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves"-2 Corinthians 3:5a) and rely on God's sufficiency ("but our sufficiency is from God"-2 Corinthians 3:5b). Those who reject human resources (the flesh) seek God "with unveiled face." They come humbly, without any veils of pretense or self-justification.

Coming to the Lord in this manner brings an ongoing blessing: "beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord." Three mirrors reflect the glory of Christ from heavenly places into the experience of the redeemed here on earth: the creation, the church, and the Scriptures. The universe declares His glory. "The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork" (Psalm 19:1). Also, the Lord can be seen living in His people. "For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh" (2 Corinthians 4:11). These two mirrors are helpful, but they can be distorted by sin. The mirror that reflects the Lord's glory flawlessly is His word. "The law of the LORD is perfect…these [the Scriptures] are they which testify of Me" (Psalm 19:7; John 5:39).

As we humbly seek the Lord in His word, we behold His glory therein. The wonderful consequence is that we "are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory." From one area after another, from one degree to another, we are being changed into the likeness of the glorious Savior we are beholding. This process is carried on as only the Holy Spirit could do it: "just as by the Spirit of the Lord."

Dear Heavenly Father, I long to be more like Your Son. Forgive me for neglect of Your word. Please draw me consistently to the Scriptures, that I might humbly behold the glory of Jesus. Thank You for the work of Your Spirit, who is able to transform me into a growing Christlikeness, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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5/12/15 8:33 A

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Day By Day By Grace - May 12

Liberty by the Holy Spirit

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:17)

As we have seen, the old covenant of law produces spiritual bondage in those who attempt to live under it. The remedy for that bondage is the new covenant of grace, because it produces spiritual liberty. This liberty is a work of the Holy Spirit. "Now the Lord is the Spirit." The life-giving Lord of grace is the Spirit of God: "the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Corinthians 3:6).

Living by rules and regulations ("of the letter") has a deadening, binding spiritual effect on people. This is how the Pharisees "ministered." "For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders" (Matthew 23:4). Jesus came to liberate people, to set them free. This is why Jesus ministered by the Holy Spirit. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed" (Luke 4:18). As Jesus, the Son of God, humbly served the Father, the Holy Spirit empowered Him to rescue captives, to release the oppressed.

Rescuing people from sin and unrighteousness is the fundamental, liberating work of Jesus. "And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness" (Romans 6:18). Now, we are free to grow in a life of righteousness. Our new-found freedom is not for personal indulgence. It is for service of the Lord. "As free, yet not using your liberty as a cloak for vice, but as servants of God" (1 Peter 2:16). Now that we are free, we can use our freedom to lovingly minister to others. "For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another" (Galatians 5:13).

Another wonder of Christ's rescuing, liberating work is that He wants to save us from self-dependent striving to develop a life of godliness and loving service. He accomplishes this by the work of the Holy 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). As we walk in humble dependence, the Holy Spirit imparts to us the life that is in Christ Jesus. This liberates us from the tendency to rely upon fleshly human resources, which are inadequate (due to sin and spiritual deadness).

Dear God of all spiritual liberation, I praise You for setting me free from sin and the service of self. Now I ask You to work in and through me by Your Holy Spirit, setting me free from self-striving in my service of You, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - May 11

More on Bondage versus Liberty

But their minds were hardened. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:14-17)

The new covenant of grace, which depends upon the Spirit of the Lord working in lives, produces liberty: "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." The old covenant produces bondage in those who attempt to live under it, because it provides no resource for meeting its demands. In our last meditation, we looked at the bondage of secrecy that results from living by man's sufficiency. Spiritual blindness is another bondage that comes from living under the law.

The Israelites were blinded by a veil that resulted from hardness of heart. "But their minds were hardened. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament [that is, the old covenant]." This hardness was related to self-sufficiency. John, the Baptist, held forth the righteous standards of God and called the people to repentance for their sins. "And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins" (Luke 3:3). John was aware that many held a self-sufficient reliance in their ancestry (their blood-line link with Abraham). "Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father'" (Luke 3:8). Jesus also encountered this same hardness of heart as He preached. "We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, 'You will be made free'?" (John 8:33). Like the self-righteous Pharisee, these people thought they were better than others and had no need for repentance. "He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous…the Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men'" (Luke 18:9, 11).

Many people today rely upon their religious heritage to give them an acceptable standing with the Lord. Such hardness of heart leaves them blind. They cannot see as God sees. God tells them of their need, but they will not reach out to Him for help. How tragic this is, because He alone is able to remove their blindness. "When one turns to the Lord,the veil is taken away in Christ."

O righteous Lord, I repent of the self-righteousness in my life. I want my heart to be soft before You. I do not want to stagger around in a veil of blindness. Lord Jesus, I humbly turn to You, in Your holy name, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - May 10

Bondage versus Liberty

Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech—unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. (2 Corinthians 3:12-13)

Living by the old covenant of law requires a "performance based life," which depends upon man's sufficiency. This produces spiritual bondage. Living by the new covenant of grace provides a "relationship based life," which depends upon God's sufficiency. This results in spiritual liberty.

Moses was a great servant of the Lord. He is a wonderful example to us in many ways. However, in our present verses, we see him living by His own sufficiency, thereby exemplifying life under the law. As Moses met with the Lord for the giving of the law, his face would shine. For the benefit of the people, he would place a veil over this shining glory: "Moses, who put a veil over his face." When this glory began to fade away (as it was designed to do), Moses kept the veil on "so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away." In this, Moses was caught in a bondage of secrecy. He did not want others to see the glory fade. He wanted others to think that his face was still aglow.

All of us are tempted at times to hide behind a veil of secrecy. This is particularly the case when we are trusting in our own sufficiency. When drawing upon our insufficient resources, we generally sense that we are not doing as well as we should be: "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves" (2 Corinthians 3:5). So, we try to hide it. We want others to think that our spiritual walk is more glorious than it actually is. So we put on veils of pretense, self-righteousness, or self-justification. The remedy for this bondage of secrecy is living by new covenant grace.

We are new covenant servants: "God, who also made us sufficient as ministers [servants] of the new covenant" (2 Corinthians 3:5-6). God makes us sufficient by sharing His fully adequate resources with us. "Our sufficiency is from God" (2 Corinthians 3:5). This is our effective hope for avoiding the bondage of secrecy that overtook Moses. "Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech-unlike Moses." Those who live by the grace of God have such great hope. Their expectations are anchored in the Lord, not in self. Thus, they can be bold, open, candid. If they fail, they humbly confess their insufficiency. If they succeed, they openly credit His adequacy.

Lord, You are my only hope and my sufficiency. You alone can liberate me from the bondage that results from trusting in myself. So, in line with Your word, I again look to You to supply daily what I need for godly living, Amen.

blueletterbible.com/devotion

Happy Mother's Day!

"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - May 9

Substantial Glory versus Excelling Glory

But if the ministry of death…was glorious…how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. (2 Corinthians 3:7-11)

These verses proclaim another significant difference between the glory of the old covenant of law and the glory of the new covenant of grace. This difference is seen in various contrasting phrases: "was glorious" versus "more glorious," "had glory" versus "exceeds much more in glory," "made glorious" versus "glory that excels," and "was glorious" versus "much more glorious." The old covenant of law is characterized by substantial glory, whereas the new covenant of grace is characterized by excelling glory.

It is certainly true that the law is glorious. That glory pertains to the holy character of God revealed in its standards. "Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the LORD who sanctifies you." (Leviticus 20:7-8). This revelation of God's holiness in the law also exposes the unholiness of man. "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).

When a person struggles and struggles with a major medical problem, it is agonizing to go on and on, not knowing what the problem actually is. It is glorious when someone is able to reveal what the problem actually is. Part of the glory of the law is that it reveals the basic problem under which all humanity struggles: sin. Yet, it is a far more glorious matter to have a remedy for a problem revealed. Grace is that remedy. "Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 5:20-21).

Dear Lord of glory, I thank You for the glory of Your law, revealing my sin problem. Yet, I praise You even more for the glory of Your grace, providing a remedy for my sin. Lord, as I humbly feed on Your holy Scriptures, may the excelling glory of Your triumphant grace impart increasing righteousness into my daily life, through Jesus my Lord, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - May 8

Fading Glory versus Remaining Glory

For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. (2 Corinthians 3:11)

The old covenant of law and the new covenant of grace both have a glory about them. However, the glory of one (the old covenant) is a fading glory. Whereas, the other (the new covenant) has a remaining glory. One is related to man's sufficiency. The other is related to God's sufficiency.

The fading aspect of old covenant glory can be seen in Moses' experience: "But if the ministry of death [the law], written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away" (2 Corinthians 3:7). The glory that shone from Moses' face (as the Lord revealed the law to him) began to fade away. It was never meant to be the permanent glory that God desired to shine upon lives. "In that He says, 'A new covenant,' He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away" (Hebrews 8:13).

The old covenant of law was not designed to remove man's problems. It was given to convict us of our basic problem of sin. Neither was it designed to bring the glorious blessings (forgiveness and life abundant) that God had for man. Jesus Christ alone could accomplish that. "For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh" (Romans 8:3) The weakness of the law was that it addressed man's flesh (natural human resources). Those resources are not able to live up to God's perfect standard of righteousness. So, Jesus had to come and deal with man's sin problem at the cross.

When we attempt to live by the old covenant of law, we are choosing to live by man's sufficiency. This can produce in us a fading glory. It is like the hype of a "religious pep rally" that soon fades away when the crowd is gone, and we are left to face the battle on our own. This glory fades, because living by law depends upon man's sufficiency.

The new covenant of grace deals with man's problems. God forgives our sins by His grace. Then, He works in our hearts by His grace to transform the sinner. This produces a remaining glory: "what remains [the new covenant of grace] is much more glorious." This glory remains, because it depends upon God's sufficiency.

Dear Father of Glory, the glory I often experience is mere natural enthusiasm concerning all that I promise to do for You. I confess that glory fades so quickly. Lord, I humbly look to You afresh for the work of Your grace within my life. By Your sufficiency, produce in me a remaining glory, for Your honor and pleasure, Amen.

blueletterbible.com/devotion

Edited by: WESLEYV at: 5/8/2015 (06:23)
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Day By Day By Grace - May 7

Ministry of Condemnation versus Ministry of Righteousness

For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. (2 Corinthians 3:9)

Here is another vivid contrast between living by the old covenant of law versus living by the new covenant of grace. God's holy law is a "ministry of condemnation," which exposes the bankruptcy of man's resources. God's glorious grace is a "ministry of righteousness," which offers the richness of God's resources.

When we try to live by the law, we walk in condemnation. When we try to minister by the law, we put others under condemnation. This is inevitable, since the law is a "ministry of condemnation." Living and ministering by the law depends upon human performance. The law demands righteous living. "You shall be holy" (Leviticus 19:2). The only resources available for law-performance are natural human abilities (the flesh). All natural abilities are flawed by unrighteousness. "We are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). This makes the flesh incapable of producing a righteous life. "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing" (John 6:63). Consequently, when we try to live by law (that is, attempt to meet God's standards by our resources), we sense condemnation. When we minister the law to others as a means of developing a godly life, they also experience condemnation.

On the other hand, when we live by grace, we grow in righteousness. When we minister the message of grace to others, they can grow in righteousness. Godliness results from ministering the new covenant of grace, because it is a "ministry of righteousness." The message of grace tells people that righteousness is available by faith. "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed…even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe" (Romans 3:21-22).

In addition to this initial gift of righteousness (imputed, or credited to our account in heaven), grace also provides ongoing practical righteousness (imparted for our daily lives on earth): "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 8:4). As we humbly depend upon the Lord, the Holy Spirit brings forth a more Christlike life through us, by His grace.

Lord God of righteousness, I have often walked in legalistic condemnation. Also, I have pointed many others in that direction. Forgive me, Lord. Please teach me how to walk in righteousness, through humble dependence upon You. Equip me to minister Your righteousness to others, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - May 6

Ministry of Death versus Ministry of Life

The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious…how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? (2 Corinthians 3:6-8)

These verses contain another contrasting choice that results in people either living by bankrupt human resources, or by bountiful heavenly ones. This contrast is "the ministry of death versus the ministry of life." These terms come from correlating four phrases: "the letter kills…the Spirit gives life…the ministry of death…the ministry of the Spirit." Of course, the old covenant of law is the "ministry of death," and the new covenant of grace is the "ministry of life" ("ministry of the Spirit…the Spirit gives life").

When people attempt to minister by the law, spiritual deadness results. Since the law sets forth a perfect standard, but offers no assistance, it "deadens" those who try to live by it. Only those who minister by grace can hold forth life to people, because grace alone provides the life that God intends for us to experience. Ministry is to be engaged in by individuals, families, and churches. Every ministry will either be characterized as a "ministry of death" or a "ministry of life." Contact with ministries either brings spiritual deadness to people, or it brings spiritual vitality.

What would people encounter if an individual, family, or church were a "ministry of death" (that is, a law-based ministry that left people relying upon their own sufficiency)? They might encounter judgmentalism or fleshly striving. They might find self-righteousness or self-confidence. They might discover hypocrisy or frustration. They might detect harshness or coldness.

Conversely, what would people encounter if an individual, family, or church were a "ministry of…life" (that is, a grace-oriented ministry that encouraged people to rely upon God's sufficiency)? Instead of judgmentalism and fleshly striving, they would encounter love and peace. Instead of self-righteousness and self-confidence, they would find humility and confidence in God. Instead of hypocrisy and frustration, they would discover genuineness and fulfillment. Instead of harshness and coldness, they would detect gentleness and warmth.

Our God is a God of life. God's loving plan of salvation was that the Son would die to bring us life. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). The Lord has life for us, and He wants us to minister life to others.

Dear Lord of life, convict my heart when I am bringing to others a law-based ministry of death. Please develop in me a grace-oriented ministry of life, by the work of Your Spirit, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - May 5

The Letter versus the Spirit

[God] also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:6)

The "letter versus the Spirit" is another contrast between living by the old covenant or by the new. This is another choice that determines whether we are functioning by man's sufficiency or by God's.

A life developed "of the letter" is one built on rules and regulations. We cannot become a child of God by rules; neither can we develop in godliness by regulations. No list of demands (including God's law) could ever bring to us, or develop in us, a life with God. All rules and regulations (including God's law) come without resource. They are a list of requirements, not a supply of adequacy. They call for an observable response, but they provide no power to produce the required effect.

Consider circumcision, which was required by the law of God for the Israelites. "And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised" (Leviticus 12:3). This was to be a reminder to God's people that they were His. Implementing that regulation did not inherently change the life of any Jew. Physical, external circumcision (that is, circumcision "by the letter") did not make a change in the heart of the one circumcised. It takes an inner working of God to produce a true child of God (in Romans 2 language, a "true Jew"). "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter." (Romans 2:28-29). God births His children and raises them in godliness through His work in their hearts by the Holy Spirit.

The kingdom of heaven is "of the Spirit." It is not about external "do's and dont's" (such as, whether to follow the standard of God's law concerning certain foods). "For the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17). Entrance into God's family, as well as development as God's children, does not hinge on following various regulations. Rather, it is about the Holy Spirit supplying heavenly blessings in the hearts of those who trust in the Lord. Life with God is always "of the Spirit" (God's sufficiency), not "of the letter" (man's sufficiency).

Father, I admit my tendency at times to equate godly living with following regulations. Help me to live by the work of Your Spirit within my heart. Through Christ I pray, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - May 4

Tablets of Stone versus Human Hearts

You are manifestly an epistle of Christ…written…not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. (2 Corinthians 3:3)

The old covenant of law was written upon "tablets of stone." The new covenant of grace is written upon "tablets…of the heart." This is another vital contrast between the old and new covenants. This difference again decides whether we draw upon man's sufficiency or upon God's.

The old covenant message of God's law was written on stones. It called man to holiness, as measured by the character of God. "You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy" (Leviticus 19:2). The message is magnificent. However, its impact would be limited (by design), since it was written on "tablets of stone." It was inscribed upon an inanimate object that was external to human lives. Consequently, it could not bring life or any provision for transforming lives. The law would function as a perfect standard, revealing our unholiness and convicting us of our need for what Jesus Christ alone could offer. We needed to have the perfect message of the law (holiness) implanted in our innermost being. This is what the new covenant of grace accomplishes.

The new covenant message of God's grace is written on human hearts: "on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart." Grace not only forgives our failure before the law, but it works to develop personal holiness at the very core of our being. This was the promise God gave through His prophets of old, that He would put His holy law into peoples' hearts. The book of Hebrews applies this promise to all believers in Jesus Christ."This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts" (Hebrews 10:16).

What hope we have through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ! Now, God transfers His holiness from an outside standard to an internal resource. Now, the Lord is making His holy requirements an internal part of our being, as we humbly trust in Him. God is stirring holy desires in us, as we earnestly seek after Him. God is developing holy priorities within us and providing spiritual strength within us to walk in more and more godliness. "It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

O Holy Father, I would be hopeless, if Your perfect standard remained outside of me, demanding holiness by my performance. Thank You for bringing Your holy will inside of my life, providing internal resource for living and growing in godliness. Lord, I look to You to transform me from the inside out, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - May 3

Old Covenant or New, Man's Sufficiency or God's

[God] also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit…But their minds were hardened. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament [old covenant], because the veil is taken away in Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:6, 14)

We have seen that godly characteristics develop in our lives through the working of God's grace within us. We now begin consideration of a closely related subject: a contrast between living by the old covenant or by the new (by law or by grace). The ongoing choices we make here determine whether we will be living by man's sufficiency or by God's. Various contrasting terms describing these significant choices are set forth in the third chapter of 2 Corinthians. Verses 6 and 14 set the basic context, the differences between the new covenant and the old: "[God] also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant…For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament [old covenant]."

One of the drastic differences between living by the old covenant or the new is seen in verse 3: "You are manifestly an epistle of Christ…written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God" (2 Corinthians 3:3). People write letters on paper, using ink to record the message. God writes His message in people's lives, using His Spirit as the instrument. What a vivid contrast, "ink" versus "the Spirit of the living God." Ink is a natural resource. It is available to all humankind, regardless of their relationship with God. Ink is not a life-giving or life-developing entity. It is a mere element of the kingdom of man. When we choose to live by the old covenant (the law), the only resources we have to draw upon are natural human resources. We are writing our own letter of life, and we have selected man's sufficiency, not God's. Such resources are as spiritually powerless as ink.

On the other hand, those who live by the new covenant of grace have the Holy Spirit supplying the mighty, heavenly, sufficiency of God. Think of the radical difference, ink versus the Holy Spirit. God wants us relying on His Spirit. He wants us living by His sufficiency, not ours.

Dear Lord, You know how often I rely upon that which has no more spiritual power than ink. I hope in my ingenuity, my resolve, my personality, my tenacity—myself. Lord, I want to be in Your word regularly, learning to rely upon You to work powerfully in my life by Your Holy Spirit, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - May 2

The Exceedingly Abundant Ability of God

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

In light of God being our sufficiency for the development of godly characteristics, this benedictory prayer in Ephesians 3 becomes an appropriate and instructive response.

It begins with the most critical issue for living the Christian life, the ability of God: "Now to Him who is able." Natural religious thinking would set forth the ability of man as the most vital matter in developing a godly life. Such an approach would leave us striving vainly under the law, attempting to live up to God's perfect standards by our own inadequate resources. Praise be to God, there is a heavenly, effective option: relying upon God's ability.

Think of the immeasurable ability of the Lord. "Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You" (Jeremiah 32:17). He created the entire universe. Certainly, by His power He is able to strengthen us. "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?" (Jeremiah 32:27). Our Lord rules over all of humanity. Surely, He is able to manage our lives. Actually, our God is "able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think." Everything we could ask concerning His will, He is able to do far beyond that. Whatever we might contemplate but hesitate to ask, He is able to surpass that.

One amazing aspect of God exercising His ability on our behalf is the imparting of His power within our lives: "according to the power that works in us." This is how the Lord wants to develop godliness in our lives. He Himself desires to work by the power of His grace deep within our hearts. "For it is good that the heart be established by grace" (Hebrews 13:9). Again, the Christian life is not affected from the outside in, hoping to modify our behavior by external religious pressures. Rather, it involves a true change of character within, affected by God Himself. This is how God is ultimately glorified in the lives of His people: "to Him be glory in the church." He works a genuine transformation of life in and through us. Then, we give Him the glory for His exceedingly abundant ability.

Lord God of exceeding abundance, I worship You as the one who is able to do all things well. Forgive me for repeatedly turning to my ability. Lord, as I seek You in Your word, build my faith. Unleash the powerful life of Your Son within my heart, making me what You want me to be, through Christ I pray, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - May 1

The Source of Our Sufficiency

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God…[We] have no confidence in the flesh…I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (2 Corinthians 3:5-6; Philippians 3:3; and 4:13)

We have been considering how God's grace develops traits of godliness in our lives. Such studies are related to finding the source of our sufficiency. Where are believers in Jesus Christ supposed to find adequate resources for living godly lives? The Scriptures answer this question in a two-fold manner. First, God wants us to realize that we are not the source of anything that we need. Second, God wants us to understand that He is the source of everything that we need.

Our inadequacy is the first matter the Lord desires to clarify for us. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves." Our own personal inadequacy is so comprehensive that we cannot expect that anything godly or eternal will source from us. We do not have any resources that can save a soul, transform a life, or cause the Lord's church to be edified. This is a drastically different perspective on life than what we initially held. Man's natural mind assumes that we must be the source of all that is needed for daily living. God's word repeatedly warns us not to adopt this viewpoint. The Psalmists proclaimed such. "Vain is the help of man…Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help" (Psalm 108:12; 146:3). Jesus elaborated on this theme. "Without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). Paul taught the same. "[We] have no confidence in the flesh [that is, in human resources]."

God's adequacy is the second matter that He wants to clarify for us. "Our sufficiency is from God." As surely as we are totally inadequate to supply what we need for life, God is fully adequate to be our comprehensive source for living. The Psalmist understood this corollary truth as well. "Through God we will do valiantly, For it is He who shall tread down our enemies…Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them" (Psalm 108:13; 146:5-6). Jesus offered the same sufficient provisions. "He who abides in Me…bears much fruit" (John 15:5). Paul testified of the same reality. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." God is the source of our sufficiency in all that pertains to the development of godly characteristics.

Dear Lord, my sufficiency, I renounce any attempt to look to myself to find personal adequacy. How vain and hopeless that is. Lord, teach me to hope in You for everything I need for godly living, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Edited by: WESLEYV at: 5/1/2015 (06:31)
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Today's Promise from the Bible - April 30

How the Characteristics of Grace Appear

And we have such trust through Christ toward God. 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. (2 Corinthians 3:4-6)

We have been considering some characteristics that God wants to develop in our lives by His grace: namely, triumphant living, a fragrance of Christ, godly sincerity, and becoming living letters of Christ. How do these appear in our lives in an ever-increasing manner? As Paul wrote on these wonderful descriptions of godly living, his heart was stirred to ask, "And who is sufficient for these things?" (2 Corinthians 2:16). Paul fully realized that man cannot produce these realities. Human resources are inadequate.

These heavenly traits grow in us as we live by the terms of the new covenant (humbly trusting in God, not in ourselves). "And we have such trust through Christ toward God." Paul's confidence in exhibiting these spiritual qualities of life was directed toward God, based upon the relationship that is available in Jesus Christ. This is not self-confidence; it is God-confidence. God must produce these characteristics.

There is no room for believers to trust in themselves. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves." We are not the source of any of these wonderful traits of godly living. They must all come from God at work in us. "Our sufficiency is from God." When we live in humble dependency, the Lord's supply becomes our needed sufficiency. "Our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant."

Yes, new covenant servants live by the grace of God. Consequently, their sufficiency is what the Lord Himself supplies! This is precisely what God promised of old through His prophets. "I will make a new covenant …I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts" (Jeremiah 31:31, 33). God inscribes these spiritual traits upon the inner man (the heart and the mind) by His grace. The results are that these characteristics of godliness develop in our lives.

Again, we are looking at living by humility and faith. "God… gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). Also, faith accesses grace: "through whom [the Lord Jesus Christ] also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Romans 5:2).

O Holy Father, I long to grow in these godly traits. I am not sufficient to produce them by my resources. My only hope is to be changed by You from the inside out. I humbly bow before You. With confidence in You, I ask that You pour Your grace upon my heart and mind, as I seek You in Your word. Through Christ my Lord, I pray, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - April 29

Living Letters of Christ

You are manifestly an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. (2 Corinthians 3:3)

Another significant characteristic resulting from living by grace is that we become living letters of Christ. "You are manifestly an epistle of Christ." The Lord wants to turn our lives into a "walking and talking letter of Him." He wants to make us a living explanation of who Christ is and all that He offers. What a great opportunity this presents. As we go about our daily responsibilities, others are often "reading our lives." While they are observing us, they can actually be learning of the truth and love of our Lord Jesus, as He is working in and through our lives. Although this may sound like too much to hope for, the Lord declares in His word that this process can become very clear to those who are watching us: "You are manifestly [that is, "plainly recognized as"] an epistle of Christ."

Remember, this is what is available for "ministers [servants] of the new covenant" (2 Corinthians 3:6). This is what happens in those who live by the grace of God. This is something that God does in us, not something we manufacture for Him. Certainly, people are involved in the process. We become fully engaged by humbly and dependently seeking after the Lord who wants to work in us. Others also get involved by ministering to us. "You are manifestly an epistle of Christ, ministered by us." Paul had ministered God's truth to these saints at Corinth. Yet, these living letters of Christ were not being written by ink, as ordinary letters would be. "You are manifestly an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God." God's Holy Spirit was at work writing the letters that their lives were becoming.

Notice where the Lord was inscribing these living letters: "not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart." The old covenant message of law was written on stones. The new covenant message of grace is written on the hearts of all who walk in humble dependence upon God. This heavenly work changes us from the inside out, making us living letters of Christ!

Dear God of all grace, I humbly admit that I need to be more and more changed into a living letter of Christ. So often, those who read me see only me. I ask You in faith to inscribe the character of Christ upon my heart, that others may see Him in my daily walk, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - April 28

Godly Sincerity in General

We conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you. (2 Corinthians 1:12)

God not only wants our lives characterized with godly sincerity toward His word, He desires to mark our lives with godly sincerity in general. "We conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity…and more abundantly toward you." As the Apostle Paul and his missionary team evangelized throughout the known world, and as they ministered among the churches, they functioned in both arenas with simple, Christlike genuineness.

The world is filled with pretense and attention to outward appearances. Many within the Lord's church have yielded to temptation in these directions. The flesh of each of us is enticed to develop an exterior image that does not match what is going on inside. Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day for such an attitude. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation" (Matthew 23:14). These men were actually taking advantage of helpless widows. Yet, they stood in public and made long prayers, hoping to be considered as godly in the eyes of the people.

Their hypocrisy was not only a matter of observable, contradictory behaviors, but the very core of their being was drastically different from what they appeared to be outwardly. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness" (Matthew 23:27-28).

Our Lord loves sincerity and hates hypocrisy. Still, it takes the working of God's grace to effect the sincerity that God desires. "We conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God." Human ingenuity cannot produce the genuineness that God wants to see in our lives. God's grace is the only sufficient resource to bring about this godly characteristic of life. God's grace works within our hearts, where true sincerity must be formed. "First cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also" (Matthew 23:26).

Dear Lord, I humble myself before You. I do not want to be a hypocrite. Work in the depths of my heart by Your mighty grace to create in me godly sincerity, through Christ I pray, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - April 27

Godly Sincerity Concerning God's Word

For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:17)

Godly sincerity concerning God's word is another characteristic with which the Lord desires to mark us by His grace. "For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity…we speak." The manner in which we relate to the word of God is a high priority to our Lord. In the early church, some were already relating wrongly to God's word: "peddling the word of God." They were using the Scriptures for self-gain.

The Bible warns us about the temptations people face concerning inappropriate uses of the word. "There are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain" (Titus 1:10-11). Titus was warned of many in the church world who were rebelling against the message of God's word. They were into the meaningless chatter and religious deception that came from the legalists, who loved to coerce people by means of the law. It was necessary that these men be silenced with the truth, because they were undermining the spiritual well-being of entire families. They were teaching things that were biblically unacceptable. Their motivation was the financial advantage they could acquire by peddling deceptions. So many today are tempted to go after the material gain that can be obtained from those who will embrace religious schemes.

Paul also warned about others who would be motivated by the power and influence that a cleverly distorted message might produce. "For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves" (Acts 20:29-30). True disciples follow the Lord Jesus. Furthermore, a true disciple wants to assist others in their quest to follow Jesus. These deceivers wanted others to follow them. This threat would be two-fold. Ruthless unbelievers would "come in" from outside the church. Also, "from among yourselves," men with an adulterated message would arise inside the church.

Godly sincerity is to characterize our treatment of the Scriptures. We are to proclaim the truth. "But as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ." We are to proclaim the biblical message that is from God, and do it in genuineness, knowing our God is watching.

Lord, I do not want to be careless in message or dishonest in motives concerning Your word. Mark me with godly sincerity regarding the Bible, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - April 26

A Fragrance of Christ to Every Person

Now thanks be to God who…through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death to death, and to the other the aroma of life to life. (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)

The fragrance of Christ is one of the great characteristics that God wants to build into our lives by His grace. "Now thanks be to God who… through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge." This spiritual aroma, which results from getting to know the Lord, blesses the heart of God. "For we are to God the fragrance of Christ." The Father loves to see the life of His Son being expressed in and through our humanity, even though this requires our dying to self. "For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh" (2 Corinthians 4:11).

As we are getting to know the Lord more and more, our God is not the only one who is impacted. This spiritual aroma of Christ impacts every person we meet. "God…through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place." This includes both the saved and the unsaved. "For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing."

This fragrance affects those who know the Lord: "the fragrance of Christ…among those who are being saved." For those who are enjoying life in Christ, that heavenly scent in our lives is "the aroma of life to life." Christ's fragrance in us draws them to seek abundant measures of that life which they have already entered.

This spiritual scent also influences those who do not yet know our Lord: "the fragrance of Christ…among those who are perishing." To them it is "the aroma of death to death." They are dead in their sins, and this aroma makes them more aware of their deadness, more aware of their need for Christ.

When this fragrance is emanating from our lives, we are not the cause. God is the active agent, working in and through us to bring forth this heavenly scent. "Now thanks be to God who…through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge." This work of God's grace is available to us every day we live and every place we go: "the fragrance of His knowledge in every place."

Father God, I long to know You more and more. I want to have this fragrance of Christ emanating up to You and out to every one I meet. I praise You that this is a work You do by Your grace. So, I humbly bow, trusting You to work in me this way, through Christ, my Lord, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - April 25

More than Conquerors Even in Impossibilities

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:35-37)

When considering the triumphant Christian life, we may wrongly think that victory depends upon getting out of impossible situations. Actually, we are already "more than conquerors" even while we are in the midst of the impossibilities.

For us to be ultimately defeated, we would have to be separated from Christ's love for us. We would have to be cut off from the loving care of our victorious Lord. Can any foe or any situation accomplish that? "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" This question is answered in verses 38 and 39. "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."

No spiritual foe can enforce such a separation between God and His redeemed children. Neither can any circumstance of impossibility separate us from our loving God. Verses 35 and 36 list some of the impossibilities that make us feel as though we are being defeated. "Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: 'For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.'" When troubles and pressures arise, when we are attacked or are lacking resources, we may be tempted to think that victory is no longer available. When our experience is like a lamb being led to the slaughter, we may think that victory could never be ours. Nevertheless, the truth is that "in all these things we are more than conquerors."

Yes, right in the middle of the impossibilities of life, we are already more than a spiritual victor. Actually, we have already been made participants in a mighty, eternal, abundant victory, the victory that Christ accomplished on the cross and in the resurrection. "We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." Our victorious position in any situation is not circumstantial. It is relational. We are united by faith to the victorious one, the Lord Jesus Christ! "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Dear Father, I praise You for the constant provision of victory through Your triumphant Son. Lord, help me to view spiritual victory as a relational matter and not a circumstantial one. I thank You that through Christ I am already more than a conqueror right in the midst of my present impossibilities, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - April 24

More than Conquerors Even in Impossibilities

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:35-37)

When considering the triumphant Christian life, we may wrongly think that victory depends upon getting out of impossible situations. Actually, we are already "more than conquerors" even while we are in the midst of the impossibilities.

For us to be ultimately defeated, we would have to be separated from Christ's love for us. We would have to be cut off from the loving care of our victorious Lord. Can any foe or any situation accomplish that? "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" This question is answered in verses 38 and 39. "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."

No spiritual foe can enforce such a separation between God and His redeemed children. Neither can any circumstance of impossibility separate us from our loving God. Verses 35 and 36 list some of the impossibilities that make us feel as though we are being defeated. "Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: 'For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.'" When troubles and pressures arise, when we are attacked or are lacking resources, we may be tempted to think that victory is no longer available. When our experience is like a lamb being led to the slaughter, we may think that victory could never be ours. Nevertheless, the truth is that "in all these things we are more than conquerors."

Yes, right in the middle of the impossibilities of life, we are already more than a spiritual victor. Actually, we have already been made participants in a mighty, eternal, abundant victory, the victory that Christ accomplished on the cross and in the resurrection. "We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." Our victorious position in any situation is not circumstantial. It is relational. We are united by faith to the victorious one, the Lord Jesus Christ! "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Dear Father, I praise You for the constant provision of victory through Your triumphant Son. Lord, help me to view spiritual victory as a relational matter and not a circumstantial one. I thank You that through Christ I am already more than a conqueror right in the midst of my present impossibilities, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - April 23

Triumphant Living Even in Difficult Situations

When I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia. Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:12-14)

Triumphant living is one of the characteristics that God wants to develop in us by the work of His grace. Even when we are in difficult situations, the Lord wants us to learn to walk in the victory that is available to us in Christ.

The Apostle Paul encountered a very difficult situation in Troas, as he traveled on one of his missionary journeys. "When I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit." As Paul arrived in Troas, it was apparent that the Lord had granted an open door to preach the gospel. Nevertheless, Paul was distressed within his heart. The reason for the turmoil within was the absence of a key ministry partner. "I did not find Titus my brother." In some situations, ministry cannot be conducted properly, if all of the strategic parts of the body of Christ are not fully engaged. So, Paul left that city, leaving Troas for another time. "Taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia."

Circumstantially, this looked like a defeat. Yet, Paul had a more profound perspective than what the eyes of man could see or what the mind of man could conceive. "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ." Paul gave thanks to the Lord for a truth that was greater than the obviously difficult situation that he had just experienced. Whenever we look to the Lord to be the one leading our lives, He "always leads us in triumph in Christ." Paul was rejoicing in the fact that he was yielded to Christ as His Lord, his leader. Thus, he knew that the Lord was leading Him in triumph, because when Jesus is counted upon to lead us, He "always leads" us triumphantly.

Christ leads us in triumph; we do not accomplish this ourselves. This triumph is a spiritual victory that belongs to us by being in Christ. "Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ." Jesus won the victory at His death, burial, and resurrection. Now, He wants us to look to Him to lead us in that victory day by day.

Dear Jesus, my victorious Lord, how often I have attempted to be the one who directs my life. I confess that when I lead, victory is not the result. Lord, help me to count on You to lead me in Your triumph, even in the difficult situations that I frequently encounter. In Your triumphant name, I pray, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - April 22

Characteristics of Living by Grace

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. (2 Corinthians 3:5-6)

When we live by the new covenant of grace, God impacts our lives. He makes us sufficient by sharing His sufficiency with us. "Our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant." This sufficiency is from His grace at work on us, in us, and through us-which produces spiritual characteristics in our lives. A brief reflection upon the workings of God's grace will provide a helpful context as we begin to consider these characteristics.

The grace of God is brought to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). When Jesus came to earth as God's incarnate word to man, He came overflowing with the grace of God. This abundance of grace in Christ is to be our ongoing spiritual provision for living the Christian life. "And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for [upon] grace" (John 1:16). One work of God's grace built upon another work of His grace is to mark our pilgrimage day by day.

This constantly-available grace of God is able to justify and sanctify lives. "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, held forth by His word, offers us new birth by grace. When we believe on the Lord Jesus, we are justified (declared not guilty, righteous in God's sight). Thereby, we obtain the spiritual inheritance of the children of God: "the word of His grace, which is able to…give you an inheritance." This same grace of God then becomes our heavenly resource for progressive sanctification (practical growth in godliness): "the word of His grace,which is able to build you up."

Part of growing in godliness involves being set free from the dominating influence of sin in our lives. God's grace provides this liberating reality. "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace" (Romans 6:14). As we learn to live by God's grace, instead of by our own best performance, the grace of God is working deep within us, bringing spiritual stability to our inner man. "It is good that the heart be established by grace" (Hebrews 13:9).

This working of God's grace in us marks us with distinctive spiritual characteristics, which will be examined in the passages of Scripture that lie ahead.

Lord God of abounding grace, give me spiritual eyes to see and a humble heart to receive all the ways You want to mark my life by Your grace, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - April 21

Growing in Knowing the Lord

Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. (2 Peter 3:18)

The new covenant of grace (at its very core) is a covenant of relationship. God's grace enables us to grow in spiritual intimacy with our Lord. "Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Here, grace is linked with growing and with knowing the Lord. As surely as grace was for spiritual birthing, grace is also for growing. The most strategic area of spiritual growth is progress in a deepening relationship with the Lord. Paul prayed in this manner for the saints: "that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him…and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:10).

This process of growth necessitates consistent intake of the word of God. "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2). It is through the Scriptures that we learn of the grace of God. The word of God is "the word of His grace" (Acts 20:32). Also, the word of God has the Lord Jesus Christ as the constant, primary subject. "And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:27). The pervasive presence of Christ throughout the Scriptures is a vital truth for growing in grace, since grace is found in the Lord Jesus. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 8:9).

God's will for our lives is that we might live in His word. This allows us to grow in His grace that we might know Him better. This truth is to delight our hearts and change our lives. "Thus says the LORD: 'Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,' says the LORD" (Jeremiah 9:23-24). So many people (sometimes, even the people of God) chase after human wisdom, earthly power, or material riches. God desires that He becomes the delight of our hearts and the goal of our life: "that he understands and knows Me." So, let us respond with joy to Hosea's call. "Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of [the knowing of] the LORD" (Hosea 6:3).

Dear Lord God, I want to press on to know You. I do not want to pursue after human wisdom, earthly power, or material riches. Nothing compares to knowing You. By Your grace, through the light of Your word, let me grow in knowing You, Amen.

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Edited by: WESLEYV at: 4/21/2015 (06:13)
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Today's Promise from the Bible - April 20

Living as Jesus Lived

"Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works…As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me." (John 14:10 and 6:57)

We are to live by trusting in the goodness of the Lord. "Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!" (Psalm 34:8). Jesus is the ultimate example of living by such trust. When we think of being like Jesus (or we ask, "What would Jesus do?"), the biblical perspective is far more profound than prevailing opinion might provide.

Jesus lived by depending upon the intimate relationship He had with the Father. "I am in the Father, and the Father in Me." When Jesus spoke or took action, it was not on His own initiative or by His own resources. "The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works." Although Jesus was God coming to earth as a man, He did not live by exercising His deity: "Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant" (Philippians 2:6-7). Jesus lived as a dependent human servant, trusting in the Father to work in and through Him. The prophets of old predicted this path, as they recorded the confessions Messiah would make about His ministry here on earth. "For I [that is, the Messiah, Jesus] shall be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and My God shall be My strength…The Lord God will help Me [that is, the Messiah, Jesus]; therefore I will not be disgraced" (Isaiah 49:5; 50:7). Jesus would depend upon the Father.

Jesus eventually applied this kind of dependent relationship to us. The structure of His teaching was "As… so." As it was between Jesus and the Father, so it is to be between us and Jesus. Jesus lived His life by depending upon the Father. Without ceasing to be God, He lived as a man, showing us how man is to live. "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father." Jesus lived by trusting in the Father to work in and through Him. We are to look to Jesus to do the same through us. "So he who feeds on Me will live because of Me." Jesus taught that feeding on Him involved coming to Him in trust. "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst" (John 6:35).

Lord Jesus, my hope and my strength, I want to live in true Christlikeness—facing all of life as You did. I want to learn to depend upon You, even as You depended upon the Father. Teach me, Lord, I pray in Your name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - April 19

Experiencing the Lord's Goodness

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! (Psalm 34:8)

The Scriptures clearly declare that the knowledge of the Lord is for developing a relationship, not merely cataloging correct information about Him. Grace and peace are to be "multiplied to" us (2 Peter 1:2), not just memorized by us. "All things that pertain to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3) are to be drawn upon for godly living, not merely listed to validate our orthodoxy. As we get to know the Lord, His goodness is to be experienced in our lives.

Our present verse is quite forthright concerning this point. "Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good." The Lord is good. He is merciful, kind, gracious, and patient. The Scriptures abound with declarations of God's goodness. "Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever" (Psalm 107:1). This goodness of God is to be experienced by God's people. "My people shall be satisfied with My goodness" (Jeremiah 31:14). We are to "taste and see" God's goodness, not only to hear of it and talk about it.

How does a person experience the goodness of the Lord? "Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!" God's goodness is available for our personal experience whenever we trust in Him. "Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You In the presence of the sons of men!" (Psalm 31:19). When we rely upon the Lord, His goodness brings forth peace in our lives. "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You" (Isaiah 26:3). When we depend upon the Lord, His goodness brings forth rejoicing in our lives. "Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, Because we have trusted in His holy name" (Psalm 33:20-21).

It should not be surprising to us that faith in the Lord is the pathway to experiencing His goodness. We have noted in a number of these meditations that faith is one of the relational realities that allows a child of God to live by His grace. Faith accesses grace (Romans 5:2). "The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him" (Lamentations 3:25).

We trust in the Lord the more we get acquainted with Him. We trust in the Lord the more we seek Him to demonstrate His faithfulness. "And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You" (Psalm 9:10).

Lord, You are so good! Too often I fail to experience Your goodness, because I do not trust in You. Forgive me, Lord. I long to taste of Your goodness. Teach me to live in dependence upon You, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - April 18

Fully Supplied through Knowing God

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue. (2 Peter 1:2-3)

Our lives are blessed whenever the Lord adds any of His blessings to our experience. Yet, there are times when we sense a need for God's blessings to be multiplied to us. Well, God desires to multiply His working toward us. "Grace and peace be multiplied to you." Drop after drop of refreshing water may encourage the thirsty soul. However, our hearts' true need may be for fountains of living water. God loves to pour forth His provisions of grace in abundance. "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). God's grace (His undeserved resource for living) is available in multiplied measures. God's peace (His heaven-sent spiritual tranquility) can be partaken of in magnified portions.

The process for partaking of these multiplied provisions simply involves growing in knowing our Lord. "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord."

Another astounding truth about believers in Jesus Christ is that we have already been given everything needed for abundant Christian living. "His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness." This is not to say that we are aware of what is ours, or that we are experiencing all that is ours. Nonetheless, God has already given us every spiritual provision needed to live as He desires ("all things that pertain to life") and to grow in Christlikeness as He wills ("all things that pertain to…godliness").

The process for accessing these comprehensive resources also involves getting to know the Lord better. "His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him."

It is by grace that we initially come to know the Lord. As we get to know Him better, grace is then multiplied into our lives. When we first met the Lord, He made available to us everything we needed to live as He intended. As we grow in knowing Him, we access experientially more and more of what He has already made available to us in Christ.

Dear Lord of abundant blessings, I praise You for Your bountiful grace. I frequently underestimate Your goodness to me. What a staggering thought that You have already given me in Christ all that I need for a godly life. O Lord, I long to grow in knowing You, that all of these heavenly realities might be manifested in my life, for Your glory and honor, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - April 17.

Spiritual Insight for Knowing the Lord

Making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. (Ephesians 1:16-17)

The new covenant of grace by which we relate to God is designed to bring us a growing, intimate knowledge of our Lord. However, this growing in knowing God requires that He reveals Himself to us. This is why Paul prayed for other believers to this end: " Making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him."

In order to increase in the knowledge of God, one must be given heaven-sent spiritual insight: "that…God…may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation." God cannot be seen by natural sight: "who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see" (1 Timothy 6:16). God cannot be known by natural wisdom. "The world through wisdom did not know God" (1 Corinthians 1:21). The things of God must be revealed to us by the Lord. "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

Jesus rejoiced in the divine wisdom of this plan. "In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, 'I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight'" (Luke 10:21). Jesus also encouraged those who humbly received God-given insight into spiritual realities. "And Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven'" (Matthew 16:16-17).

Jesus taught His followers to rely upon the teaching, revealing ministry of the Holy Spirit to know the things of God. "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth…He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you" (John 16:13-14).

Dear Lord, I long to know You more and more. I humbly confess that I need You revealing Yourself to me. As I prayerfully read and study Your holy word, I pray that You would give to me the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of You, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - April 16

Pressing on to Know the Lord

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

We have noted that humility is one of the relational realities that God wants to develop in our lives so we can live daily by the grace of God. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). Here we see evidence of the godly humility that had developed in the Apostle Paul through the years. "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended." When these words were written, Paul had been walking with the Lord for 25 to 30 years. Yet, he admits that he had not "fully arrived." He confesses that he did not know the Lord so completely that his entire life was a demonstration of resurrection living. Consequently, he had one great goal that directed his life and service: "one thing I do." His all-consuming passion was to get to know the Lord more and more: "that I may know Him" (Philippians 3:10).

One of the significant issues that keeps believers in Christ from knowing the Lord better is their past. Many Christians focus their attention on their past. Failures of the past plague them with condemnation. Wrongs done to them in the past tempt them to self-pity or bitterness. Past successes give false assurance that things must go well today. Past blessings distract them from seeking the Lord's fresh work in their lives now. Paul gives us heavenly insight concerning how to deal with the past: "forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead." Things of the past need not dominate our present. God's grace can cover past failures and pains. Today, we need to look forward to the next work of grace that He wants to bring forth as we walk on with Him.

God wants us to move forward, looking upward. "I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." The goal is to get to know the Lord better. We are to press toward that goal, exerting all of the spiritual strength and energy that God's grace supplies. This is our reply to God's heavenly call to seek Him, to know Him. Along the way, we will partake of the prize that comes with that goal. The prize is every blessing that results from getting to know Him better. Let's press on to know the Lord!

Lord Jesus, help me to forget things of the past that would distract me from You. I want to press ahead to get to know You better. Please reveal Yourself to me through Your word. I humbly ask You to demonstrate Your grace in and through my life, in Your name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - April 15

The One Necessary Thing

That I may know Him…Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do…"one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her." (Philippians 3:10, 13 and Luke 10:42)

Paul's goal in life was to grow in intimacy with the Lord: "That I may know Him." He wanted to know the Lord so well that his life would be transformed into "resurrected living" in this spiritually lifeless world. He humbly admitted that he had not yet reached such spiritual maturity. "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended." Thus, in light of his own need to grow, coupled with the excellence of the goal, he had a single focus in his life: "one thing I do." This one thing was his ongoing quest to know the Lord more and more.

This focused quest is similar to the heart that Mary demonstrated, as recorded in the gospel of Luke. When Jesus visited the home of Mary and Martha, Mary "sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word" (Luke 10:39). Martha was functioning as a busy hostess, desiring to bless her Lord. However, her busy labors distracted her from the one she was attempting to serve. "But Martha was distracted with much serving" (Luke 10:40). The solution was obvious to Martha. She would insist that Jesus send her sister to help. "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me" (Luke 10:40).

How startled Martha must have been when Jesus indicated she was the problem, not Mary. "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things" (Luke 10:41). The many concerns of Martha's ministry were causing anxiety and inner turmoil. Her desire to serve the Lord had deteriorated to self-pity and irritation. Then, Jesus offered an astounding revelation that put everything into perfect spiritual perspective. "But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:42).

What an amazing truth: "one thing is needed." That one necessary matter is Jesus. Mary chose Jesus. She was at the feet of her master, getting to know Him, listening to His words of truth and grace. This was Paul's heart: "one thing I do…that I may know Him."

Dear Lord Jesus, shape in me a heart like Paul's, like Mary's. Stir in me a passion to know You better. May this become the consuming goal in my life. Forgive me for allowing busy service to eclipse You, the one I desire to please. Help me to spend frequent quiet times at Your feet. Then, when I rise up to serve You, may my heart always remain at Your feet, abiding in You, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - April 14

The Excelling Value of Knowing Christ

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ…that I may know Him. (Philippians 3:8, 10)

We can easily underestimate the great value of getting to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Other matters from the world, or even within the church world, can gain our interest and allegiance. Paul saw clearly the precious treasure of knowing Christ.

Paul had advanced greatly in the religious culture of Israel. He was "a Hebrew of the Hebrews" (Philippians 3:5). He was a prominent Pharisee, a leader among the nation of Israel. Nevertheless, he forsook all of that cultural and religious advantage in order to follow Christ. "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ." He considered knowing the Lord Jesus as far greater than his privileged personal position.

Furthermore, Paul continued to consider other matters as loss, when compared to the supreme value of knowing his Lord better. "Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." Now that Paul had a relationship with the Lord, he considered any thing that would interfere with or diminish that relationship as being a losing situation. Sometimes, we are tempted to engage in matters that seem to bring some blessing or advantage. Yet, when we see the impact it might have on our relationship with the Lord, the apparent gain is actually a loss.

Paul knew Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. Still, he was aware that more of the blessings of Christ were yet to be experienced, if his relationship were to develop into more depth and intimacy: "that I may gain Christ." Thus, he repeats his two-fold renouncing of anything that might interfere with this desire. First, a look at the past: "I have suffered the loss of all things." Then, a confession of the present: "and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ." This term ("rubbish") refers to garbage, to waste, to dung.

These convictions left Paul with one great goal in his life: "that I may know Him." Paul realized that this goal was the excelling value in all of the universe: "the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord."

Lord Jesus, knowing You is the most precious treasure of my life. Yet, I admit that I do allow other matters to interfere with our relationship at times. Lord, help me to view as rubbish anything that would keep me from growing in this wonderful acquaintanceship with You, Amen.

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