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12/27/14 8:17 A

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Day By Day By Grace - December 27

An Invitation to Pray at the Throne of Grace

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

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

The throne to which we are invited is the throne of God, revealed to the Apostle John. "Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne" (Revelation 4:2). This honored King of the universe is the Creator of everything, exercising His sovereign will by His infinite power. "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created" (Revelation 4:11). This is a throne of everlasting holiness, as declared constantly by angelic creatures. "And they do not rest day or night, saying: 'Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!'" (Revelation 4:8). For the godless, this will become a throne of judgment. "Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it…And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God…And they were judged, each one according to his works…And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:11-13, 15).

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

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

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12/26/14 8:19 A

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Day By Day By Grace - December 26

More on a Biblical Example of Spirit-led Praying

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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12/25/14 8:23 A

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Day By Day By Grace - December 25

A Biblical Example of Spirit-led Praying

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas !

blueletterbible.com/devotion



Edited by: WESLEYV at: 12/25/2014 (08:25)
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12/24/14 8:31 A

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Day By Day By Grace - December 24

Another Call to Pray without Ceasing

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

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

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

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

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

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12/23/14 7:47 A

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Day By Day By Grace - December 23

Jesus' Call to Pray without Ceasing

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

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

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

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

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

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12/22/14 8:45 A

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Day By Day By Grace - December 22

Praying Without Ceasing to the God of All Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

blueletterbible.com/devotion


Edited by: WESLEYV at: 12/22/2014 (08:46)
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12/21/14 8:15 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 21

Once More on Following Jesus as a Disciple

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

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

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

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

We need the Lord Jesus like sheep need a shepherd. In fact, our discipleship walk with Christ is portrayed in Scripture as sheep following a shepherd. Those who are in the world are like sheep without a shepherd. What a needy picture that is. "But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd" (Matthew 9:36). Jesus, our shepherd, is the ultimate shepherd. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep" (John 10:11). Having died for us, our shepherd wants to lead us throughout our lives. "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me" (John 10:27). In humble dependence, we can hear His voice through His word and be led by His Spirit. Thereby, we enter into the fullness of the grace that God has for us during our pilgrimage here on this earth.

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

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12/20/14 8:21 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 20

More on Following Jesus as a Disciple

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

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

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

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

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

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 19

Following Jesus as a Disciple

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

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

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

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

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

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 18

Even More on Relating Rightly to the God of All Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 17

More on Relating Rightly to the God of All Grace

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

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

As we are in the word of God, growing in the knowing of God, there are many ways to express humility and faith toward the Lord. We have emphasized a number of these in previous sections of these devotions. Living by the Spirit was one of these. "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing." The spiritual life that the Holy Spirit alone can provide is what the new covenant of grace offers to man. God "also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Corinthians 3:6). As we humbly depend upon the Spirit, God graciously fills our lives with His life.

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

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

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

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 16

Relating Rightly to the God of All Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 15

God Freely Giving, Man Humbly Receiving

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

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

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

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

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

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 14

Jesus Given for Us to be Given to Us

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

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

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

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

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

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 13

The Comprehensive, Freely Giving Plan of God

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

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

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

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

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

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 12

Courageous, Selfless Ministry by the Grace of God

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

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

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

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

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

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 11

Given Ministry by the Grace of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 10

Give, the Language of Grace

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

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

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

What God wants to do in our hearts is accomplished by His grace, which must be given to us. This is true concerning eternal life. "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish" (John 10:28). This also pertains to the Holy Spirit in our lives. "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever" (John 14:16). It is true concerning spiritual gifts. "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all…But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift" (1 Corinthians 12:7 and Ephesians 4:7). This pattern applies to spiritual rest and peace as well. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you" (John 11:28; 14:27). When it comes to the greatest matter of all (getting to know the Lord better), God must give to us what is required for such growth: "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him" (Ephesians 1:17). All of these precious benefits from God are a result of His giving of His grace into our lives.

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

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

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 9

More on the Boldness of Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 8

The Boldness of Grace

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

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

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

This is the boldness of the new covenant of grace. "Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech" (2 Corinthians 3:12). This hope is new covenant confidence. It is part of the abundant life that God brings to us by His Spirit of grace: "who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Corinthians 3:6).

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

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 7

Grace for Serving the Lord Acceptably

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

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

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

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

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

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 6

Once More on Continuing in the Word of His Grace

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

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

All of the word of God's grace is divinely inspired. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." Although written through human instruments, the Bible message is what God wanted to say. Therefore, the word is able to bring great spiritual profit into our lives: "and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." God's word "is profitable for doctrine." The teaching ministry of the word reveals to us the path of godliness. "Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105). Also, God's word "is profitable for… reproof." The admonishing ministry of the word tells us when we are drifting from God's path. "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition" (1 Corinthians 10:11). Further, God's word "is profitable for… correction." The restoring ministry of the word calls us back to the straight and narrow path of godliness. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon" (Isaiah 55:7). Finally, God's word "is profitable for… instruction in righteousness." The transforming ministry of the word moves us on down the path of Christlikeness. "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror [the mirror of the word] the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

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

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

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 5

Still More on Continuing in the Word of His Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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Today's Promise from the Bible - December 4

Even More on Continuing in the Word of His Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - December 3

More on Continuing in the Word of His Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - December 2

Continuing in the Word of His Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - December 1

Continuing in the Grace of God

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - November 30.

The Observable Nature of the Grace of God

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

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

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

What Barnabas saw was undoubtedly similar to the spiritual phenomenon that had occurred in the church at Colosse. When the gospel was embraced there, it clearly impacted lives: "the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth" (Colossians 1:5-6). In Colosse, the outward effects of the inward work of the grace of God was spiritual fruit. When Barnabas saw this same process unfolding in Antioch, "he was glad."

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

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Day By Day By Grace - November 29

Jesus' Example of Grace for Our Speech

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - November 28

Jesus' Example of Grace Developing Our Lives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - November 27

The Suffering that Prepares Us for Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - November 26

The God of All Grace Developing Our Lives

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - November 25

Lives Drawn by the Exceeding Grace of God

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - November 24

More on Exceedingly Abundant Grace for Transformation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - November 23

More on Exceedingly Abundant Grace for Transformation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - November 22

Exceedingly Abundant Grace for Transformation

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - November 21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - November 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - November 19

The "Much More" Grace of God

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - November 18

God Fulfilling the Work of Faith with Power

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - November 17

Reflecting on the Extensive Consequences of Walking by Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - November 16

"Unusual" Consequences of Accessing Grace through Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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Day By Day By Grace - November 15

Contrasting Consequences of Accessing Grace through Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Today's Promise from the Bible - November 14

One More Consequence of Accessing Grace through Faith

Who through faith…turned to flight the armies of the aliens. (Hebrews 11:34b)

In this summarized series of testimonies, the Lord's servants "subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle" (Hebrews 11:33-34b). Our next category shows one more consequence of accessing grace through faith.

By trusting in the Lord, some of His people "turned to flight the armies of the aliens." Jonathan (son of King Saul) provides an excellent picture of this. "Then Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor, 'Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the LORD will work for us. For nothing restrains the LORD from saving by many or by few'" (1 Samuel 14:6). Although these two men were greatly outnumbered by the enemy forces, Jonathan knew that God was not restricted by numbers and could bring victory to His people. The anticipated response of the enemy soldiers confirmed God's plan to Jonathan, so he attacked the fortress. "And Jonathan climbed up on his hands and knees with his armorbearer after him; and they fell before Jonathan. And as he came after him, his armorbearer killed them" (1 Samuel 14:13). The alien army reacted as though a mighty horde had swept over them. "And there was trembling in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and the raiders also trembled; and the earth quaked, so that it was a very great trembling. Now the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and there was the multitude, melting away; and they went here and there" (1 Samuel 14:15-16). Other Israelites, who had been fearful, were encouraged to join in the battle. "Likewise all the men of Israel who had hidden in the mountains of Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines fled, they also followed hard after them in the battle" (1 Samuel 14:22). So, two men were sufficient to cause a mighty army to flee, even if God needed to add an earthquake to ensure effectiveness!

By trusting in the Lord, we can also cause the enemy and his demonic forces to flee. "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might…For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places…Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (Ephesians 6:10, 12 and James 4:7).

Lord God Almighty, where do you want me to go forth in faith, anticipating that You will cause the enemy to flee? Lord, guard me from presumption. I submit to You. Make me an encouragement to fearful saints who are in hiding and need to be serving, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - November 13

Still More Consequences of Accessing Grace through Faith

Who through faith…escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle. (Hebrews 11:34)

We have seen that by trusting in the Lord, His people "subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire" (Hebrews 11:33-34a). Other testimonies indicate that there are still more consequences of accessing grace through faith.

By faith, some of God's servants "escaped the edge of the sword." The prophet Elisha experienced this. The king of Syria sent his army to encompass the city. "There was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, 'Alas, my master! What shall we do?'" (2 Kings 6:15). Elisha saw the true situation by the eye of faith, so he prayed. " 'LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.' Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha" (2 Kings 6:17). Then, the Lord struck the enemy forces with blindness and delivered His people.

Others of God's people "out of weakness were made strong." King Jehoshaphat showed what this meant. "The people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others…came to battle against Jehoshaphat" (2 Chronicles 20:1). In weakness, the king cried out to the Lord. "We have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us…but our eyes are upon You" (2 Chronicles 20:12). The Lord assured them of His victory. "The battle is not yours, but God's…You will not need to fight in this battle…stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you" (2 Chronicles 20:15, 17). Strengthened by faith and filled with expectation, they marched out to watch the enemy armies destroy one another.

Others "became valiant in battle." Samson exemplified this. "The Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him…and his bonds broke loose from his hands. He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey…and killed a thousand men with it" (Judges 15:14-15).

We may face many imminent threats, but we can trust the Lord to provide His escape. "The Lord will deliver me from every evil work" (2 Timothy 4:18). The Lord provides His strength, even when we are weak. "For My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Our God can also make us valiant in battle. "Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day" (Ephesians 6:13).

O Lord, You are my deliverer, my strength, and my source of courage. Teach me to look to You when I am in danger, when I am weak, and when the battles rage. I long to walk by faith in the blessed consequences of Your abounding grace, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - November 12

Even More Consequences of Accessing Grace through Faith

Who through faith…stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire. (Hebrews 11:33b-34a)

Through various testimonies of God's servants, we have considered some consequences of accessing grace through faith. By trusting in the Lord, they "subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises" (Hebrews 11:33a). Yet, through these lives we can see even more blessed consequences.

Through faith in God, they "stopped the mouths of lions." This is clearly a reference to Daniel. His enemies conspired to trap him through a new law that would ban prayer to God. "Whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions" (Daniel 6:7). Such a godless decree could never stop Daniel from his daily practice of prayer. "Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days" (Daniel 6:10). The reluctant king (who respected Daniel greatly) had to apply the irreversible law. "So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions" (Daniel 6:16). The next day, Daniel was found alive, rescued by the God in whom he had trusted. "So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God" (Daniel 6:23).

These testimonies also record that they "quenched the violence of fire." This would clearly refer to three contemporaries of Daniel: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. Through faith, they had courage to refuse worship of the king's idol, even though a fiery furnace awaited them. After God preserved them intact, the king extolled the Lord with understanding. "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who…delivered His servants who trusted in Him" (Daniel 3:28).

By faith, we, too, can stop the mouth of the lion that threatens us. "Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith" (1 Peter 5:8-9). Also, by faith in the promises of God, we can quench the violence of fiery trials that come against us. "When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God" (Isaiah 43:2-3).

Dear Lord, what a comfort to know that lions and fires are no threat to You. Lord, grant me the courage to do what is pleasing in Your sight, no matter who comes against me. When the roaring adversary attacks, may I trust in You. When fiery circumstances blaze, may I turn to You, for Your glory, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - November 11

More Consequences of Accessing Grace through Faith

Time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness. (Hebrews 11:32-33a)

With time and pages running out in his epistle, our divinely inspired writer summarizes the testimonies of specific servants of the Lord (Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel), as well as one general category (the prophets). His summary presents more consequences of accessing grace through faith.

The first consequence of their faith is that they "subdued kingdoms." As with Joshua, David was exceptionally effective in defeating enemy nations. "David attacked the Philistines, subdued them… Then he defeated Moab…And David defeated Hadadezer king of Zobah as far as Hamath, as he went to establish his power by the River Euphrates…Then David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus…He also put garrisons in Edom" (1 Chronicles 18:1-3, 6, 13).

The next consequence of their faith is that they "worked righteousness." These terms speak of walking in righteousness before the Lord and calling others to the righteous ways of the Lord. Samuel had a reputation of walking in righteousness before his God. "'There is in this city a man of God, and he is an honorable man'…Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate" (1 Samuel 9:6, 18). The prophets persistently called the people to forsake their ungodly ways and to turn to the Lord's righteous ways. Isaiah preached powerful warnings concerning unrighteousness. "Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward" (Isaiah 1:4). He also held forth the Lord as man's only hope of righteousness. "Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon" (Isaiah 55:6-7).

The kingdoms we are to subdue today are the kingdoms of self and flesh, as well as the kingdom of this world (with its millions of bound and lost, who are perishing in darkness). The righteousness we need and that we proclaim is the righteousness of Christ, who lives in us! The means is ever the same-by faith.

Lord God of power and righteousness, teach me to rely upon Your power, that the kingdoms of self and flesh might be subdued in my life day by day. Lord, I want to abide in You, so Your righteousness might shine through me daily. Enable me to cry out against ungodliness, while at the same time, pointing people to You for the forgiveness and righteousness they need, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - November 10

More Consequences of Accessing Grace through Faith

Time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness. (Hebrews 11:32-33a)

With time and pages running out in his epistle, our divinely inspired writer summarizes the testimonies of specific servants of the Lord (Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel), as well as one general category (the prophets). His summary presents more consequences of accessing grace through faith.

The first consequence of their faith is that they "subdued kingdoms." As with Joshua, David was exceptionally effective in defeating enemy nations. "David attacked the Philistines, subdued them… Then he defeated Moab…And David defeated Hadadezer king of Zobah as far as Hamath, as he went to establish his power by the River Euphrates…Then David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus…He also put garrisons in Edom" (1 Chronicles 18:1-3, 6, 13).

The next consequence of their faith is that they "worked righteousness." These terms speak of walking in righteousness before the Lord and calling others to the righteous ways of the Lord. Samuel had a reputation of walking in righteousness before his God. "'There is in this city a man of God, and he is an honorable man'…Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate" (1 Samuel 9:6, 18). The prophets persistently called the people to forsake their ungodly ways and to turn to the Lord's righteous ways. Isaiah preached powerful warnings concerning unrighteousness. "Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward" (Isaiah 1:4). He also held forth the Lord as man's only hope of righteousness. "Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon" (Isaiah 55:6-7).

The kingdoms we are to subdue today are the kingdoms of self and flesh, as well as the kingdom of this world (with its millions of bound and lost, who are perishing in darkness). The righteousness we need and that we proclaim is the righteousness of Christ, who lives in us! The means is ever the same-by faith.

Lord God of power and righteousness, teach me to rely upon Your power, that the kingdoms of self and flesh might be subdued in my life day by day. Lord, I want to abide in You, so Your righteousness might shine through me daily. Enable me to cry out against ungodliness, while at the same time, pointing people to You for the forgiveness and righteousness they need, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - November 9

David and Samuel—by Faith

Time would fail me to tell…also of David and Samuel. (Hebrews 11:32b)

Our divinely inspired author sensed that time was running out to elaborate upon the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah. He also recorded that time was not sufficient to include specific testimony about the faith of David and Samuel. This is surprising, since they would be viewed by many as likely candidates for extensive consideration.

David was such a notable man of faith. He faced the giant Goliath by faith. "Then David said to the Philistine, 'You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts'" (1 Samuel 17:45). When Saul wanted to destroy him, David entrusted the King into the hands of the Lord. "Let the LORD judge between you and me, and let the LORD avenge me on you. But my hand shall not be against you" (1 Samuel 24:12). He confidently confessed the Lord as his strength, his joy, and his comprehensive salvation. "The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation" (Psalm 118:14). He also turned to the Lord at the lowest spiritual point in his life (after he sinned tragically in adultery and murder). In humble dependence he cried, "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin" (Psalm 51:1-2).

Samuel was another notable man of faith. He began to trust in the Lord as a young boy. "Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, 'Samuel! Samuel!' And Samuel answered, 'Speak, for Your servant hears'" (1 Samuel 3:10). Then, he grew spiritually and faithfully served the Lord throughout the nation of Israel. "So Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the LORD" (1 Samuel 3:19-20). Also, he courageously rebuked King Saul for not fully carrying out God's instructions to destroy the Amalekites. "Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king" (1 Samuel 15:23).

David and Samuel were outstanding servants of the Lord. However, the noteworthy distinctive in their lives was the same spiritual distinctive that caused some men of lesser renown to be listed here as well…faith. "For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah" (Hebrews 11:32a).

Lord God of the "likely servant," in many ways, I can identify with Barak and Jephthah more readily than with David and Samuel. Yet, I am encouraged to see that what pleases You in any person is always the same—faith. Teach me to trust You, Lord.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - November 8

Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah—by Faith

And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah. (Hebrews 11:32a)

So much has been noted in these chronicles of faith concerning the extensive consequences that appear as faith accesses grace. As our present verse implies, days and pages seem too short to also relate the testimonies of Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah-who many might view as "unlikely examples" of living by faith.

In Gideon, God called an unlikely leader as His instrument to deliver His people. His humble reply was, "O my Lord, how can I save Israel?… I am the least in my father's house" (Judges 6:15). The Lord's promise was, "Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites" (Judges 6:16). When 32,000 Israelites rallied for battle (Judges 7:3), God diminished Gideon's army to an unimpressive, outnumbered 300. "Then the LORD said to Gideon, 'By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you'" (Judges 7:7). Gideon went forth by faith, and the Lord was faithful to His word. "When the three hundred blew the trumpets, the LORD set every man's sword against his companion… and the army fled" (Judges 7:22).

Again, in Barak, another unlikely leader was selected by the Lord. Lacking courage, he would not go forth to battle unless the prophetess Deborah accompanied him. "And Barak said to her, 'If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go'" (Judges 4:8). Also, his godless opponent was actually defeated by another woman. "Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber…Then Jael…took a tent peg and took a hammer in her hand…and drove the peg into his temple…for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died" (Judges 4:17, 21). In Samson, we have another unexpected example of faith. Although he did many mighty exploits, he often proved to be a vain and foolish man (especially, concerning women). Yet, in his death, he won his greatest victory of all. "'O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God' …So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life" (Judges 16:28, 30).

In Jephthah, we have one more unlikely example of faith. He was the "son of a harlot" (Judges 11:1). He made what appears to be a foolish vow (Judges 11:1). Still, on occasion, his trust in the Lord was evident. "Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah…and the LORD delivered them into his hands" (Judges 11:29, 32).

Lord God of the "unlikely servant," I thank You for these testimonies of those "likely to be overlooked by many." Yet, in various situations, their faith in You was demonstrated. Lord, I am encouraged that You are not looking for the spectacular performer or the capable achiever. You are looking for people who will trust in You, as You deal with their shortcomings. I praise You, Lord, for such lovingkindness!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - November 7

Rahab, the Harlot, Rescued, by Faith

By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. (Hebrews 11:31)

God delivered the fortress of Jericho into the hands of His people, as the walls fell down, by faith. "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days" (Hebrews 11:30). This evil city of abominations was then destroyed, as the holy Lord God had justly required. "You shall utterly destroy them…lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods" (Deuteronomy 20:17-18). Yet, the family of Rahab, the harlot, was rescued, by faith. "By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe."

In preparation for entering the land, Joshua had sent out two spies, who were eventually received by Rahab. "Now Joshua…sent out two men…to spy secretly, saying, 'Go, view the land, especially Jericho.' So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there" (Joshua 2:1). The king of Jericho searched for the men and could not find them, for Rahab had concealed them. "She had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax" (Joshua 2:6). Why would this woman have risked her life to protect these two strangers? She and her family had heard of the reality of the God of Israel. "We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites…whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted…for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath" (Joshua 2:10-11). This heathen family now wanted to turn from their idolatrous ways and identify by faith with the true and living Lord God and with His people. "Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall" (Joshua 2:15).

By her confession of faith, confirmed by her actions of faith, Rahab and her family were rescued from the judgment that her unbelieving city experienced. "And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father's household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day" (Joshua 6:25). She became a part of the nation Israel, even appearing in the line of Jesus, the Messiah! "The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ…Abraham begot Isaac… Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab" (Matthew 1:1-2, 5). What astounding blessings come to those who believe. By faith, Rahab went from judgment to deliverance, from idols to God, from shame to honor!

Lord God of all who believe, I am humbled and encouraged by Rahab's testimony. It is humbling to see how much more revelation I have—yet, at times, I wrestle with fears and doubts. However, it is encouraging to see the radical changes that You bring whenever we trust in You!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - November 6

Israel Seeing Jericho's Walls Fall Down, by Faith

By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. (Hebrews 11:30)

The children of Israel are now poised on the edge of the land that God had promised to give them. By faith, they had kept the Passover and were spared the judgment of the firstborn that befell the unbelieving Egyptians. By faith, they had been delivered from bondage in Egypt. By faith, they had passed through the Red Sea. Now, they would begin to possess the promised blessings of God, seeing Jericho's walls fall down, by faith.

The first great challenge that Israel faced in the land was the fortress city of Jericho. Previously, the doubting spies had discouraged the people by speaking of these impenetrable cities. "The cities are great and fortified up to heaven" (Deuteronomy 1:28). Now, the Lord gives words of encouragement. "And the LORD said to Joshua: 'See! I have given Jericho into your hand'" (Joshua 6:2). Although these words must have stirred hope, the battle plan may have brought some perplexity. "You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days…But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets" (Joshua 6:3-4). The natural question would have been, "How can a fortified city be taken by marching in circles and blowing trumpets?" Yet, these unusual battle instructions were accompanied by a divine promise. "When they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat" (Joshua 6:5). If the people would trust in the Lord, march around the city as told, and add a victory shout at the end of the seventh day, then the walls would fall down. "And he said to the people, 'Proceed, and march around the city'" (Joshua 6:7).

Day after day, they marched on silently. On the seventh day, they marched repeatedly. Many times they may have been tempted to forsake the process as foolish and futile. Yet, patiently and obediently, they pressed on, by faith. Finally, the seventh march was completed on the seventh day. "When the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout…the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city… and they took the city" (Joshua 6:20). How could this be? It was the result of faith in God. "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down."

Lord God of the impossible, many times I have been as helpless as Israel was before the impregnable fortress of Jericho. When I tried to knock down the circumstances by my own power or thought, I was defeated. When I trusted in You prayerfully, I was victorious. Please help me to patiently and persistently face such battles in prayer, awaiting Your work, by Your mighty grace, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - November 5

The Israelites Passing through the Red Sea, by Faith

By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned. (Hebrews 11:29)

By faith, Moses called God's people to apply the blood of the Passover lamb that they might be delivered from the judgment that was to befall Egypt. "By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them" (Hebrews 11:28). Then, Moses led the people out of Egypt, eventually passing through the Red Sea, by faith.

Instead of sending Israel directly north toward the promised land, the Lord sent them eastward toward the Red Sea. "So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea" (Exodus 13:18). From the outset of their journey, the Lord became their guide. "And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light" (Exodus 13:21).

Yet, Pharaoh's heart hardened against Israel once again. "So the Egyptians pursued them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and overtook them camping by the sea" (Exodus 14:9). Soon, the people were trapped between the formidable sea and a mighty army. They were overtaken with fear, so Moses pointed them to the Lord. "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today" (Exodus 14:13). Then, as the Lord had instructed him, "Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left" (Exodus 14:21-22). Into this intimidating setting, by faith in the Lord, the children of Israel advanced. "By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land."

Again, as the Lord commanded, Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. "Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained" (Exodus 14:28). The rebellious Egyptians could not follow where God's people had gone by faith. "Whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned."

Almighty God, when the way is blocked before me and an army of circumstances closes in behind me, help me to stand by faith, looking to You to open a way. Lord, I want to follow You, asking You to lead me where my enemies cannot go, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - November 4

Moses Keeping the Passover, by Faith

By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. (Hebrews 11:28)

When Moses boldly led Israel out of Egypt, his fearlessness was based upon his faith in the true and living God. "By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible" (Hebrews 11:28). His confidence in the invisible Lord God had been confirmed by what he saw regarding the Lord's faithfulness when he kept the Passover, by faith.

The crushing blow of God's judgment upon Egypt was the death of the firstborn in every household. "The LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt…So Pharaoh rose in the night…Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, 'Go, serve the LORD as you have said'" (Exodus 12:29-31). Israel was delivered from this judgment by trusting in the Lord's protection, which was provided through the shed blood of the Passover lamb. "Now the LORD spoke to Moses…every man shall take for himself a lamb…a lamb for a household…Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it…For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt…I am the LORD. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt" (Exodus 12:1, 3, 6-7, 12-13). Responding in faith, Moses and the Israelites were delivered. "By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them."

We, too, are delivered from judgment by faith in the blood of the ultimate Passover Lamb. "Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us" (1 Corinthians 5:7). We who trust in the shed blood of Christ are forgiven, delivered from the eternal wages of sin by God's abounding grace. "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace…For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Ephesians 1:7 and Romans 6:23). This eternal life (of endless duration and abundant dimensions) is ours through the New Covenant of grace. "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you" (Luke 22:20).

Lord Jesus, my Passover Lamb, I thank You for Your shed blood that rescued me from the eternal judgment that I deserved. I praise You for the abundance of life that Your New Covenant of grace brings to me, by faith!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - November 3

Moses Leading Israel out of Egypt, by Faith

By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. (Hebrews 11:28)

Moses left Egypt on two occasions, under two different sets of circumstances. On the first occasion, he left Israel behind in Egypt, going out in fear. On the second occasion, he is seen leading Israel out of Egypt, by faith.

Moses' first departure saw him fleeing for his life, fearing what the Pharaoh might do to him. Moses' heart had been drawn to the people of God. He went out to consider their situation. "When Moses was grown…he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren" (Exodus 2:11). Moses killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. When his brethren became aware of this reckless deed, Moses was frightened. "So Moses feared and said, 'Surely this thing is known!' When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian" (Exodus 2:14-15). So, Israel was left in Egypt in bondage, and Moses' desire to see God's people delivered was thwarted.

Moses' second departure found him leaving courageously, with no fear of what Pharaoh might do. "By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king." Much had transpired between these two departures. For forty years, Moses had humbly tended sheep on the back side of the desert. "Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God" (Exodus 3:1). There, the Lord revealed Himself to Moses in a burning bush, sending him back into Egypt to demand the release of God's people. "I am the God of your father-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob…Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt" (Exodus 3:6, 10). So, Moses boldly confronted one of the most powerful leaders in the world. "Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'Let My people go'" (Exodus 5:1). Then, the Lord performed awesome wonders until He caused the will of mighty Pharaoh to be broken. "The LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt…So Pharaoh rose in the night…Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, 'Go, serve the LORD as you have said'" (Exodus 12:29-31). The ultimate difference in this second departure was that Moses had seen the Lord and had learned to trust in Him. "For he endured as seeing Him who is invisible."

O Lord God, awesome deliverer, I know what it is to run away from situations in fear. I also know what it is to lead out in faith. The difference, Lord, is seeing who You are and what You alone can do. Please reveal Yourself to me that my faith might grow!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - November 2

Moses Esteeming Christ's Riches above Egypt's, by Faith

By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. (Hebrews 11:24-26)

By faith, Moses renounced his place of privilege in Pharaoh's family, choosing to identify himself with God's people. He knew that loss and suffering awaited him. Yet, he was strengthened by faith to make this life-shaping decision by esteeming Christ's riches above Egypt's.

When Moses identified with the Israelites, he was joining himself to the people of the Messiah, the Anointed One (the Christ). From the earliest days, the people of God had been promised an Anointed Deliverer. "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He [the Savior] shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel… I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you [by the coming of Messiah] all the families of the earth shall be blessed…The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh [the Prince of Peace] comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people" (Genesis 3:15; 12:3; and 49:10).

Yet, this heaven-sent King (Jesus), as well as His people, would encounter reproach. "He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him…Also the sons of those who afflicted you shall come bowing to you, and all those who despised you shall fall prostrate at the soles of your feet; and they shall call you The City of the LORD, Zion of the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 53:3 and 60:14). In spite of such reproach, Moses joined himself to the Messiah and His people. Moses understood that he was more blessed to stand with a divine, though despised, Messiah than to have all the material treasures of Egypt: "esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt." He made this wise evaluation by considering the eternal consequences: "for he looked to the reward." He anticipated eternal realities that subsequent men of God would powerfully proclaim. "God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever…Whereas you have been forsaken and hated…I will make you an eternal excellence, a joy of many generations" (Psalm 73:26 and Isaiah 60:15).

Dear Jesus, the Christ, my Messiah, I want to stand with You and Your people, even if it means sharing in Your reproach. I know that You will strengthen me now and be my portion forever. By Your eternal excellencies make me a joy to others now, as I await with eager anticipation Your everlasting kingdom, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - November 1

Moses Refusing Egypt and Choosing God's People, by Faith

By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. (Hebrews 11:24-25)

The natural tendency of humanity is to desire privilege and pleasure. These two were certainly available to Moses in Egypt. Yet, he refused Egypt and chose God's people, demonstrating the far reaching impact of trusting in the Lord.

When the daughter of Pharaoh discovered baby Moses, she decided to raise him as her child. "Moses was born…and he was brought up in his father's house for three months. But when he was set out, Pharaoh's daughter took him away and brought him up as her own son" (Acts 7:20-21). As an offspring of the palace, Moses had access to the very best of human education, and he became proficient in all that was provided for him. "And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds" (Acts 7:22). In terms of conventional earthly perspectives, Moses was guaranteed a life of privilege and pleasure.

However, when he reached the age of relative maturity, his heart was drawn in a distinctively different direction. "But when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel" (Acts 7:23). The wording implies that he had been taught of his link with the Israelites as he was growing up in Pharoah's household. Eventually, his heart was stirred by this connection, and he made a life-shaping decision, by faith. "By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter." He decided to renounce his place of privilege in Pharoah's family and to identify himself with God's people. He was aware that this choice was a renunciation of a pleasure-filled life and would inevitably lead to suffering: "choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin."

To commit to the palace would have been pleasurable, but sinful. Furthermore, those sinful pleasures would have been temporary. On the other hand, the blessings of following the leading of the Lord would last forever. Moses' heavenly perspective was much like the Psalmist. "For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand [that is, in anyplace else]. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness" (Psalm 84:10).

Heavenly Father, help me to discern whenever the offer of human privilege is competing with Your will for my life. Please give me a heart to identify with Your people, even though inconvenience or suffering might result. Strengthen my faith to choose eternal blessings over the passing pleasures of sin, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 31

Moses' Parents Acting Courageously, by Faith

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's command. (Hebrews 11:23)

Our present study reveals another strategic illustration of the extensive consequences of walking by faith. Fear is one of the major threats to living as God intends. Faith in God brings the courage that is needed to overcome fear. Moses' parents are outstanding examples of acting courageously, by faith.

Moses' parents ("Amram… Jochebed"-Exodus 6:20) faced a dreadful dilemma. Jochebed had just given birth to Moses. Pharoah, who was fearful of the rapidly growing slave population, had previously ordered the death of all male Jewish newborns. "The king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives…and he said, 'When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live'" (Exodus 1:15-16). However, the midwives had faith in the Lord and spared the male babies at birth. "The midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive" (Exodus 1:17).

Moses' parents had a similar, courageous faith in God. "By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents…and they were not afraid of the king's command." Nevertheless, their baby was still in danger, since Pharoah had also commanded all the Egyptians to destroy any male babies that they might discover. "Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, 'Every son who is born you shall cast into the river'" (Exodus 1:22). When they could no longer hide Moses, Jochebed put him in a simple ark in a place where he might be rescued. "When she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river's bank" (Exodus 2:3). God honored the faith of these courageous parents, allowing the Pharoah's daughter to discover Moses' floating basket and to respond with mercy. "And when she had opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him" (Exodus 2:6).

Moses' parents courageously risked their lives in order to do that which would be pleasing to God. Their action was based upon their faith in God. Whenever necessary, we too can act courageously, if we rely upon our great God. "In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Psalm 56:11).

Dear faithful Lord, when I am intimidated by the threats or pronouncements of others, please remind me of Your faithfulness to the parents of Moses, that I too might have courage to do that which would please You, through Christ, my Lord, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 30th

Joseph Also Viewing the Future, by Faith

By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones. (Hebrews 11:22)

When Isaac and Jacob pronounced blessings upon their posterity, they exemplified viewing the future, by faith. When Joseph requested that his bones some day be buried in the land of promise, he was also viewing the future, by faith.

Joseph's journey to leadership in Egypt was marked by alternating battles and blessings. His brothers had betrayed him and sold him into slavery. "Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers…sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt" (Genesis 37:28). Soon, Joseph found blessing under the care of Potiphar, an Egyptian captain who purchased him. "And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put in his hand" (Genesis 39:3-4).

Yet, another battle arose. Joseph was imprisoned when Potiphar's wife lied. She resented Joseph's refusal of her sensual advances. "'He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice'…Then Joseph's master took him and put him into the prison" (Genesis 39:14, 20). But, more blessing came as the Lord granted Joseph favor with the prison keeper. "And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners…because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper" (Genesis 39:22-23). Another spiritual battle ensued, as one of Pharoah's servants forgot Joseph's kindness to him in prison. "The chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. Then it came to pass, at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh had a dream" (Genesis 40:23-41:1). Joseph's interpretation of Pharoah's dream would bring Joseph to his position of authority in Egypt. "You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you" (Genesis 41:40).

Faith in the Lord certainly sustained Joseph and brought him to God's desired place of service and opportunity. Yet, our present verse reveals that Joseph's basic interest was not his own blessing and advancement. Joseph had a heart for the plans and purposes of God. As he viewed the future, he was convinced that the Lord would some day bring His people back to the land of promise. His request to have his bones buried in the land of promise was an expression of his faith in God's promises. "God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here" (Genesis 50:25).

Lord God of eternity, as I alternate between the battles and blessings of life, help me to view the future by faith. Remind me that Your everlasting purposes can guide and shape my temporal circumstances, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 29th

Isaac and Jacob Viewing the Future, by Faith

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph. (Hebrews 11:20-21)

Since we have previously considered Abraham's offering of Isaac (in the meditation on God's promises on August 9), let's move on to consider Isaac and Jacob. While pronouncing prophetic blessings upon their descendants, these two men became examples of viewing the future, by faith.

The example of Isaac actually occurred in the midst of a deceitful plot by one of his own sons. Isaac wanted to pass on a blessing to his oldest son, Esau. "Now it came to pass, when Isaac was old and his eyes were so dim that he could not see, that he called Esau his older son and said to him…'Make me savory food, such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die'" (Genesis 27:1, 4). Jacob (the supplanter or "schemer") disguised himself and lied to his father, attempting to steal the blessing. "And Jacob said to his father, 'I am Esau your firstborn…sit and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me'…And he did not recognize him…so he blessed him" (Genesis 27:19, 23). Although Esau later was given a blessing as well, the blessing for Jacob passed on the headship of the family to this younger son. "Be master over your brethren, and let your mother's sons bow down to you" (Genesis 27:29). When informed of the deceit, Isaac let the blessing stand. The Lord indicates this was an act of faith in the purposes of God.

The example of Jacob also occurred in an unusual setting. Joseph was bringing his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, to his father for a family blessing. "Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them" (Genesis 48:10). Joseph brought Ephraim (the younger) toward Jacob's left hand and Manasseh (the firstborn) toward his right hand. However, Jacob crossed his hands, thereby switching the primary blessing. "And Joseph said to his father, 'Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.' But his father refused and said, 'I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he'" (Gen 48:18-19).

These actions may not seem significant to us. Yet, the Lord lists them as notable steps of faith in Him. Why? Because these blessings reflected and instituted aspects of God's sovereign plans, in spite of inappropriate scheming and established traditions.

O sovereign Lord, I bow in faith to Your perfect plans and purposes. What a comfort to know that Your will cannot be thwarted by inappropriate schemes or established traditions. Teach me to view the future with faith in Your wisdom and Your sovereignty.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 28th
More on Abraham's Patient, Heavenly Pilgrimage, by Faith

And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:15-16)

Abraham (and his family) lived as "strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13). He lived as an obedient sojourner here on earth, trusting God to lead him about as one who was in the world, but not of the world. He also lived as a patient, heavenly pilgrim, trusting God to lead him to the eternal homeland that awaits all who have saving faith in the Lord. We have a similar calling from the Lord. "Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul" (1 Peter 2:11).

Abraham understood that spiritual sojourners and heaven-bound pilgrims must stay away from earth-bound cravings that undermine one's godly quest. "And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return." Abraham and his seed had many tests and trials in their pilgrimage with the Lord. If they had set their attention on the country they forsook, they would have been tempted to return there. The enemy of our souls wants to wage war against us by ensnaring us again in the world that we have forsaken: "in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2). Everyone is vulnerable to such attack. Even one of Paul's early associates in ministry fell prey to this enticement. "Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world" (2 Timothy 4:10). Thus, the Lord warns us to stay away from any indulgent relationship with the world. "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15).

Instead, we are to desire the priorities of Abraham and his family. "But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country." Even though the land of promise was in their inheritance some day, they hungered for the realities of heaven above. Such heaven-focused faith is pleasing to our heavenly Father. "Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them." In this heavenly city ("the city of the living God-Hebrews 12:22), we will dwell forever with our glorious Lord!

Lord God, the only true and living God, I regret those times that the world has drawn my attention away from my heavenly homeland. I cry out to You—please anchor my heart in heaven above, that I might thereby please You in my pilgrimage here on earth below, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 27th

Abraham's Patient, Heavenly Pilgrimage, by Faith

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. (Hebrews 11:13-14)

We looked at Sarah's testimony in Hebrews previously (in the meditation on God's promises on August 8). Now, we will move on to consider a strategic facet of Abraham's testimony regarding his obedient, earthly sojourn, by faith. Therein, we saw him traveling through life on earth as an alien, a stranger (in the world, but not of it). Now, we will see Abraham's patient, heavenly pilgrimage, by faith. His previous testimony concluded with this pilgrimage theme: "For he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:10). Early in the present continuing testimony, the two themes are coupled. "They were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." A stranger (sojourner) is one who does not belong to the given locale. The pilgrim is one who is marching toward a given spiritual destination.

Abraham and his family (Sarah, Isaac, and Jacob) were promised the land flowing with milk and honey. "These all died in faith, not having received the promises." They did not personally possess the promised land. Yet, they lived with a sense of guaranty that God would fulfill His promises: "but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them." They fully accepted the certainty that the Lord would some day give that land to their seed. Meanwhile, they confessed that they were content to live as strangers concerning this world and as pilgrims anticipating the world to come: "and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."

Now, the pilgrimage aspect of Abraham's testimony (and his family's) is emphasized. "For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland." As the years passed and the promised land was not given to them, their hearts yearned for a true, lasting, eternal homeland. "For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland." God wants to develop this perspective of heavenly pilgrimage in our hearts as well. "Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul" (1 Peter 2:11). The Lord wants us to set our daily course toward heaven, rejecting earthly cravings that diminish spiritual vitality.

Father God, You have fulfilled so many promises for me here on this earth. I praise You and thank You for such loving grace. Still, my heart yearns for that which heaven alone can provide. Thus, I press on as a pilgrim, bound for my homeland above.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 26

Abraham's Obedient, Earthly Sojourn, by Faith

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Hebrews 11:8-10)

Abraham provides one of the most profound studies concerning the extensive consequences of walking by faith. One lesson he offers is that trusting God enables us to obediently leave familiar settings to follow the Lord into new, uncertain situations. Beyond this, Abraham's example sheds light on how to face our entire journey on earth. We see this in Abraham's obedient, earthly sojourn, by faith.

God called Abraham to leave his familiar homeland and to follow Him to a new land that the Lord would give him. "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'" (Genesis 12:1). Abraham obeyed the Lord by stepping out through faith into a monumental change. "By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance." He trusted the Lord to lead him, even though he was given no indication of where this land would be. "And he went out, not knowing where he was going." When he arrived in the land, his faith again was exercised by having to sojourn there, as if he were an alien in a foreign land. "By faith he sojourned in the land of promise as in a foreign country." Year after year, he moved about in tents with his son and grandson, who were also promised this same land: "dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise."

There certainly are times when the Lord calls us to follow Him into unknown territory. Only trusting our Lord, as Abraham did, will sustain us. Still, whether circumstances are shifting or stable, we are to face all of life's journey as he did. This world is promised to God's children some day. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). Until the Lord makes it so, we sojourn here as visitors (in the world, but not of it), walking with our God and being used by Him. Meanwhile, like Abraham, we are waiting by faith for an everlasting city that man cannot produce. "For he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God."

Lord God of Abraham, for any changes that You want to lead me into, I want to trust You, as Abraham did. Lord, for all of my sojourn here on earth, I look to You to keep me and use me—as I await Your return, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - October 25

Noah Building an Ark, by Faith

By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. (Hebrews 11:7)

At times, the Lord asks His people to engage in assignments that seem to make no sense at all. Perhaps, it is a task that we have never undertaken. Perhaps, it is preparation for a problem that we have never encountered previously. One of the most profound examples from such categories was Noah building an ark, by faith. His example is profound both in the circumstances that he faced and the extent of the impact of his faithful response.

The setting was the extreme wickedness of humanity. "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). Mankind's deserved judgment was a worldwide flood. "So the LORD said, 'I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth…I Myself am bringing the flood of waters on the earth'" (Genesis 6:7, 17). Noah was an upright man who lived in close fellowship with the Lord. He would be graciously delivered. "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD…Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God" (Genesis 6:8-9).

To build an ark for a monumental flood must have appeared absurd in a world that had never experienced such a phenomenon. Nonetheless, Noah fully accepted this divine admonishment, even though he had never witnessed what God was warning about. "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen… prepared an ark." His faithful obedience was motivated by holy respect for the Lord and for all of His pronouncements: "moved with godly fear."

The consequences of his labor of faith were far-reaching. His own family was saved: "prepared an ark for the saving of his household." By Noah's godly trust, the rest of the world was condemned for their ungodliness and unbelief: "by which he condemned the world." Noah himself became numbered among those who illustrate that the Lord's righteousness is received by trusting Him: "and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith." Additionally, he became a reminder of being ready for the return of the Lord. "But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matthew 24:37).

Dear Lord, please teach me to respond in faith, as Noah did, whenever You call me to a perplexing assignment. Also, as impending judgment awaits those who indulge in growing worldwide ungodliness, help me to proclaim Christ as the present ark of rescue, while eagerly anticipating His return, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - October 24

Enoch's Pleasing Walk with God, by Faith

By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, "and was not found, because God had taken him"; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him…. (Hebrews 11:5-6)

It is the will of God that we learn to walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord: "that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him" (Colossians 1:10). Again, such godly living can only be developed by faith. Much helpful insight into such a life is provided in Enoch's pleasing walk with God, by faith.

Enoch was one of our earliest forefathers. "Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah" (Genesis 5:21). After the birth of Methuselah (who became, at 969 years, the oldest man ever on earth), Enoch began a three hundred year-long journey of close fellowship with God. "After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years" (Genesis 5:22). After three centuries of spiritual intimacy, Enoch was taken into heaven without experiencing death. "And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him" (Genesis 5:24). Enoch's intimacy with God and his unique homegoing were related to a life of reliance upon the Lord. "By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death…for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God." Of course, what was so pleasing to God about Enoch's walk was his trust in the Lord. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him."

Enoch is a wonderful reminder of what life is all about-walking with God by faith throughout our days on earth, then walking right on into the presence of God in heaven someday. Many will eventually do this, like Enoch, without facing death. "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Others may face death, but the key ingredient of fellowship on earth right on into heaven is the same. "I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to glory" (Psalm 73:23-24).

Dear God of heaven and earth, I desire to please You by a life of faith here on earth. Help me to walk closely with You day by day throughout my pilgrimage here below. I eagerly anticipate the day that I will forever be with You in the fullness of Your glorious presence in heaven above, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - October 23

Enoch's Pleasing Walk with God, by Faith

By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, "and was not found, because God had taken him"; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him…. (Hebrews 11:5-6)

It is the will of God that we learn to walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord: "that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him" (Colossians 1:10). Again, such godly living can only be developed by faith. Much helpful insight into such a life is provided in Enoch's pleasing walk with God, by faith.

Enoch was one of our earliest forefathers. "Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah" (Genesis 5:21). After the birth of Methuselah (who became, at 969 years, the oldest man ever on earth), Enoch began a three hundred year-long journey of close fellowship with God. "After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years" (Genesis 5:22). After three centuries of spiritual intimacy, Enoch was taken into heaven without experiencing death. "And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him" (Genesis 5:24). Enoch's intimacy with God and his unique homegoing were related to a life of reliance upon the Lord. "By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death…for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God." Of course, what was so pleasing to God about Enoch's walk was his trust in the Lord. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him."

Enoch is a wonderful reminder of what life is all about-walking with God by faith throughout our days on earth, then walking right on into the presence of God in heaven someday. Many will eventually do this, like Enoch, without facing death. "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Others may face death, but the key ingredient of fellowship on earth right on into heaven is the same. "I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to glory" (Psalm 73:23-24).

Dear God of heaven and earth, I desire to please You by a life of faith here on earth. Help me to walk closely with You day by day throughout my pilgrimage here below. I eagerly anticipate the day that I will forever be with You in the fullness of Your glorious presence in heaven above, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - October 22

The Extensive Consequences of Walking by Faith

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11:1-3)

In order to live by grace, we must be willing to walk by faith. For those who actually depend upon the Lord day by day (thereby accessing His grace), the Scriptures regularly proclaim the extensive consequences of walking by faith.

First, let's consider the significant characteristics of faith. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for." Faith is the assuring confirmation of the wonderful things that we anticipate God will do. As our faith grows in the promises and purposes of God, that faith brings us more substantiation of the certainty of God's heavenly plans. Also, faith is "the evidence of things not seen." Faith brings us verification of realities the human senses cannot observe. Faith convinces us of the absolute existence of God and His angels, Adam and Eve, the devil and demons, heaven and hell, and the prophets and apostles of old.

Next, let's consider some of the living results of faith. "For by it the elders obtained a good testimony." By faith men and women of generations past established a godly witness concerning their relationship with the Lord: "By faith Abel…By faith Enoch…By faith Noah…By faith Abraham…By faith Sarah…By faith Isaac…By faith Jacob…By faith Joseph…By faith Moses…By faith the harlot Rahab… [and others]" (Hebrews 11:4, 5, 7, 8, 11, 20, 21, 22, 23, 31). Their testimonies were exceedingly diverse. Yet, the common elements were their trust in the Lord and the glory such faith brought to His name.

Last, let's consider some of the spiritual understanding of faith. "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." God has shaped the heart of all humanity so that the observation of creation guarantees a universal conviction of Himself as Creator. "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead" (Romans 1:20). His holy Scriptures then explain how He created all visible things. "By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth" (Psalm 33:6).

Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Creator of heaven and earth, I bow before You in faith. I rejoice in the assurances, convictions, and understandings of faith. I have a deep desire to obtain a good testimony through faith in You, for Your honor and glory, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - October 21

Victory over the World through Faith

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5)

The enemy of our souls would love to devour our lives. "Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). We can enjoy protection from the devil through faith. "Resist him, steadfast in the faith" (1 Peter 5:9). When the enemy cannot devastate us by direct attack, he still desires to pull us down into defeat, using the pitfalls and temptations available to him through the entire world system. "The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one" (1 John 5:19). All of the unredeemed, as well as all of their cultural networks, are under the influence of the evil one. Nevertheless, for the redeemed, victory over the world through faith is available daily.

The only people who can ever walk in victory over the world are born again believers in Jesus Christ. "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world." We desperately need the overcoming grace of God, because of the earthly enticements that the devil can use against us. "For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world" (1 John 2:16). Through the world around us, our spiritual foe wants to draw us into ungodly areas that our flesh craves, our eyes covet, or our pride wants to feast upon. The path of victory is traveled by faith. "And this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith." We initially entered into the victory of Christ by placing our faith in Him. "Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" We continue to experience all the manifold ramifications of that victory through day by day dependence upon the Lord.

Jesus taught these truths when He was here upon earth. "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). It is absolutely certain that the world will bring to us all many troubles and trials. Our fully sufficient hope is the Lord Jesus Christ. The world came against Jesus with all of its plots and ploys. Our Lord and Savior never succumbed at any point. He is the one we are to rely upon, in order to walk in victory ourselves. "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). Trusting in the victor allows us to walk in His victory.

Lord Jesus, the world has surely brought me many difficulties and temptations. Yet, You are the overcoming victor, so I look to You for personal victory day by day. How blessed I am to have living in me the One who is far greater than the enemy who roams about in the world, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - October 20

Protection from the Devil through Faith

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

As we walk by faith, God's grace is imparted into our lives, bringing us many blessings in our Lord. We have seen that among these heavenly delights are assurance of salvation and security of salvation. "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life…who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 John 5:13 and 1 Peter 1:5). Related to these delights is protection from the devil through faith.

Godly Christian living involves spiritual gravity and spiritual attentiveness. "Be sober, be vigilant." These necessary traits that the Lord wants to develop in us do not nullify the reality of joy and peace in the Lord. However, such earnestness is mandatory due to the enemy that we have. "Because your adversary the devil walks about." We do have a committed and intimidating spiritual opponent, and he has an organized army of fallen, rebellious, demonic cohorts. "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). The intention of our spiritual foe is deadly. He goes about "like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." Our enemy does not merely desire to frustrate us or make us miserable. He wants to devour us, to devastate our lives. Jesus stated the matter this way: "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy" (John 10:10).

Although our adversary is relentless and imposing, God's gracious remedy is simple and effective. "Resist him." We are to oppose him. We are to stand against him. How are we to accomplish this? Are we to pit our own strength against his? Never! We effectively stand against him by being "steadfast in the faith." We simply continue trusting in the great truths of God's word, which declare Christ as victor over our foe. "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil…Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it [the cross]" (1 John 3:8 and Colossians 2:15). By faith, we renounce the enemy and submit to our Lord. Thereby, God promises us that the enemy will flee. "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).

Dear Lord, mighty conqueror, what a joy it is to know that You have defeated the enemy and his demonic conspirators. What grace You offer in providing protection from the devil as I simply resist him by trusting in You. Praise Your victorious name!

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Day By Day By Grace - October 19

Protection from the Devil through Faith

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

As we walk by faith, God's grace is imparted into our lives, bringing us many blessings in our Lord. We have seen that among these heavenly delights are assurance of salvation and security of salvation. "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life…who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 John 5:13 and 1 Peter 1:5). Related to these delights is protection from the devil through faith.

Godly Christian living involves spiritual gravity and spiritual attentiveness. "Be sober, be vigilant." These necessary traits that the Lord wants to develop in us do not nullify the reality of joy and peace in the Lord. However, such earnestness is mandatory due to the enemy that we have. "Because your adversary the devil walks about." We do have a committed and intimidating spiritual opponent, and he has an organized army of fallen, rebellious, demonic cohorts. "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). The intention of our spiritual foe is deadly. He goes about "like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." Our enemy does not merely desire to frustrate us or make us miserable. He wants to devour us, to devastate our lives. Jesus stated the matter this way: "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy" (John 10:10).

Although our adversary is relentless and imposing, God's gracious remedy is simple and effective. "Resist him." We are to oppose him. We are to stand against him. How are we to accomplish this? Are we to pit our own strength against his? Never! We effectively stand against him by being "steadfast in the faith." We simply continue trusting in the great truths of God's word, which declare Christ as victor over our foe. "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil…Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it [the cross]" (1 John 3:8 and Colossians 2:15). By faith, we renounce the enemy and submit to our Lord. Thereby, God promises us that the enemy will flee. "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).

Dear Lord, mighty conqueror, what a joy it is to know that You have defeated the enemy and his demonic conspirators. What grace You offer in providing protection from the devil as I simply resist him by trusting in You. Praise Your victorious name!


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Edited by: WESLEYV at: 10/19/2014 (07:17)
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Day By Day By Grace - October 18

Security of Salvation through Faith

An inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:4-5)

In our previous biblical meditation, we considered the delightful work of God's grace that brings to His children assurance of salvation through faith. "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:13). Assurance of salvation pertains to the certainty that we actually are saved. Another related work of God's grace is security of salvation through faith. Security of salvation pertains to the certainty that we will remain saved.

The Scriptures offer great confidence that our salvation is eternally secure. Jesus spoke of such security for His sheep. "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:27-28). Paul was inspired of the Holy Spirit to write of this grand theme. "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" (Romans 8:38-39). What great security is available in Christ!

Yet, other Scriptures stir apprehension for some. "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit…if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance…For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins" (Hebrews 6:4, 6 and 10:26). Such verses certainly provoke debate on whether or not one can lose his salvation (or whether a willfully fallen, professing Christian was ever saved or not).

In light of this, where do we turn to settle eternal security? We must turn to the Lord in faith. The children of God have a rich salvation inheritance waiting in glory: "An inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you." Day by day, we can enjoy the blessing of being guarded by God's power for this salvation, if we are depending upon the Lord: "who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." Security of salvation is known through day by day faith in the Lord Jesus.

Lord God of my salvation, I praise You that eternal security is available in Christ through faith. At times, I have tried to find security of salvation through theological debates with others. Lord, I gladly trust you to keep me this day by Your power, Amen.


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Day By Day By Grace - October 17


Assurance of Salvation through Faith

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:11-13)

If we are to grow in grace, we must live by faith. "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace" (Romans 4:16). If our faith is to develop and mature, we must know where faith comes from. Jesus (and His word) is the source of our faith. "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Hebrews 12:2 and Romans 10:17). As we get to know our Lord better and better, as we get into His word more and more, our faith grows. As our faith grows, we experience the grace of God more and more. One of the blessings of God's grace is assurance of salvation through faith.

Some people wonder if they are saved. Others hope that they are saved. Still others think that they might be saved. God wants people to know that they are saved. "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life." Of course, salvation (the gift of eternal life) is given to those who "believe in the name of the Son of God." This means that they trust in the person and work of Christ. They believe He is God, the Son. They believe He died and rose victorious over sin and death. Many who have entered into salvation are, nonetheless, without assurance of this great gift.

Assurance is imparted through the faithful and true word of God. "And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." The gift of eternal life has truly been provided for by the Lord. However, the Father wants us to be reminded that this eternal life is "in His Son." Everlasting life is not some "packaged blessing" that comes to us separated from Jesus. The life God has for us is found through a dependent relationship with a person, Jesus. If we have Jesus in our lives, we have the life that is found in Him. "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." If we have invited the Lord into our lives, He now dwells in us. "As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12). Jesus gives us assurance of salvation through faith in Him and His word.

Lord Jesus, I thank You for coming into my life when I received You by faith. Therefore, I know that I have eternal life, since that life is in You. Thank You for the grace that brings such assurance through simple faith in You and Your word, Amen.


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Edited by: WESLEYV at: 10/18/2014 (08:04)
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Day By Day By Grace - October 16

Assurance of Salvation through Faith

If we are to grow in grace, we must live by faith. "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace" (Romans 4:16). If our faith is to develop and mature, we must know where faith comes from. Jesus (and His word) is the source of our faith. "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Hebrews 12:2 and Romans 10:17). As we get to know our Lord better and better, as we get into His word more and more, our faith grows. As our faith grows, we experience the grace of God more and more. One of the blessings of God's grace is assurance of salvation through faith.

Some people wonder if they are saved. Others hope that they are saved. Still others think that they might be saved. God wants people to know that they are saved. "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life." Of course, salvation (the gift of eternal life) is given to those who "believe in the name of the Son of God." This means that they trust in the person and work of Christ. They believe He is God, the Son. They believe He died and rose victorious over sin and death. Many who have entered into salvation are, nonetheless, without assurance of this great gift.

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:11-13)

Assurance is imparted through the faithful and true word of God. "And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." The gift of eternal life has truly been provided for by the Lord. However, the Father wants us to be reminded that this eternal life is "in His Son." Everlasting life is not some "packaged blessing" that comes to us separated from Jesus. The life God has for us is found through a dependent relationship with a person, Jesus. If we have Jesus in our lives, we have the life that is found in Him. "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." If we have invited the Lord into our lives, He now dwells in us. "As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12). Jesus gives us assurance of salvation through faith in Him and His word.

Lord Jesus, I thank You for coming into my life when I received You by faith. Therefore, I know that I have eternal life, since that life is in You. Thank You for the grace that brings such assurance through simple faith in You and Your word, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - October 15

Once More on the Source of Faith

Then He who sat on the throne said…"Write, for these words are true and faithful"…Then he said to me, "These words are faithful and true"…So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Revelation 21:5; 22:6; and Romans 10:17)

Jesus is the faithful and true witness, who gives us the reliable truth that we must have in order to find life and live life as God intended. "Jesus Christ, the faithful witness…the Faithful and True Witness…And He…was called Faithful and True" (Revelation 1:5; 3:14; and 19:11). Faith toward Him develops in our lives, as we see His faithful and true character. His word is a vital part of this process, since it has the same character that He has (faithful and true). "Write, for these words are true and faithful… These words are faithful and true."

When people humbly receive the word of God, the Scriptures change their lives. This is how we started out with God: "Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because 'All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.' Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you" (1 Peter 1:23-25). We were born again into the family of God in conjunction with the incorruptible, living, eternal word of God being planted like a seed into our lives. This occurred when we heard the gospel. We then believed the good news of Jesus Christ, and this gospel seed germinated within us unto life eternal.

After being born again by grace through faith in Christ, God's plan was that we continue to respond to His word (like those in Thessalonica did). "For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe" (1 Thessalonians 2:13). These saints welcomed the Scriptures into their lives. They knew that it was not a mere human message. They knew it was from the Lord. They were eager to hear it and to rely upon its life-nurturing message. Therefore, it effectively worked in their hearts, as they believed in the truths they were hearing. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Initially and continually, faith comes by hearing the faithful and true words of God, and that faith accesses grace.

Dear Lord, even as You are faithful and true, so Your word is faithful and true. I began by a faith that was stirred through the gospel message of Your word. I know that I can only grow in faith as I humbly receive Your word into my life day by day. Lord, I long to live by faith that I might grow in Your grace, in Your holy name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - October 15

Even More on the Source of Faith

Jesus Christ, the faithful witness…the Faithful and True Witness…And He…was called Faithful and True. (Revelation 1:5; 3:14; and 19:11)

Faith comes into our lives through the work of Jesus Christ: "Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). Faith develops in our hearts when the name of the Lord is revealed to us (that is, an understanding of who Jesus is and what He is able to do). "And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong…Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness" (Acts 3:16). We grasp to some degree how great He is, so we trust Him to do great things. Thereby, faith comes into our spiritual experience through Him. Our present verses are related to this development of faith, for they depict Jesus as faithful and true.

He is the reliable witness, who tells us the truth: "Jesus Christ, the faithful witness…the Faithful and True Witness…And He…was called Faithful and True." As the ultimate witness, Jesus gives us testimony of the truths that are essential for every person. He tells us about the kingdom of heaven. "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). He warns us about the judgment of hell. "So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 13:49-50).

He also tells us about the heavenly Father. "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:11). He warns us about the "father of lies." "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it" (John 8:44). He tells us what true living is all about. "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (John 17:3). We have faith in Him and all that He bears witness to, because He is "the Faithful and True Witness."

Dear Lord Jesus, I thank You for being the reliable witness. I trust in You because You are faithful and true. Your trustworthy witness has rescued me from hell and headed me toward heaven, protected me from the father of lies and made me a child of the heavenly Father. Your witness has brought me to life everlasting. I praise You with unending gratitude!

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Day By Day By Grace - October 14

More on the Source of Faith

And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. (Acts 3:16)

The path of discipleship can only be traveled by faith (by trusting in our unseen Lord). Progress can never be made by sight (by relying upon that which our human senses can gather and process). "We walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). Therefore, it is vital that we understand where we must go for the source of our faith: "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus is the source of faith. The Scriptures often expound upon this fundamental truth.

This truth was again declared when the lame man was healed at the temple gate. This miracle occurred when two of the Lord's disciples were going to the temple in Jerusalem to pray. "Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer" (Acts 3:1). A crippled man requested a gift. "And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful… asked for alms" (Acts 3:2-3). Peter and John had no money to give, but they offered far more than the man had sought. "Then Peter said, 'Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk'" (Acts 3:6). They offered this man healing in the name of Jesus Christ. "And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them-walking, leaping, and praising God" (Acts 3:7-8). The miracle was extensive. The lame man was not only strengthened to walk, he was also enabled to leap and stirred to give exuberant praise unto the Lord.

As an astonished crowd gathered, Peter explained how the miracle was related to the name of Jesus. "And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know." The name of Jesus referred to His person and His power (that is, all that Jesus was and all that He was able to do). This demonstration of Jesus' power was experienced through faith in His name (that is, reliance upon who He was and what He could do). Then, Peter explained the source of such faith. "Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all." Jesus is the source of faith. Those who know Jesus to be a wonder-working Lord will trust Him to do extraordinary things.

O glorious Lord, I see many matters that only You can handle—problems in the world, needs in the churches, difficulties threatening loved ones, burdens in my life. I trust in Your name. Please show again who You are and what You alone can do, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - October 13

The Source of Faith

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)

In order to grow in grace, we must live by faith. "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace" (Romans 4:16). We cannot progress spiritually by the use of our natural, Adamic faculties. We must walk by faith in the Lord and His word. "We walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). Yet, where do we get faith? What is the source of faith?

Jesus is the source of our faith: "Jesus, the author… of our faith." If we have saving faith in Christ, it was brought into being by Him. Our faith was authored by Jesus in a revelatory and relational manner. He revealed to us the truth we needed to know (through sermons, personal witnesses, tracts, audio tapes, books, Bible reading, or whatever). Then, He invited us into a relationship with Himself.

First, He told us the truth about our need. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 3:23 and 6:23a). Then, He told us the truth about His loving work on our behalf. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). All the while, His Spirit was convicting us of the reality of these matters. "And when He [the Holy Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (John 16:8). Ultimately, Jesus invited us to trust in Him for the gift of salvation. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.…the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Matthew 11:28 and Romans 6:23b). Basically, Jesus revealed Himself to us as the one who could be trusted to save our souls, so we placed our hope in Him. Thereby, He authored faith in us.

Now, where are we to go for more faith (for the developing of our faith)? Jesus is the source for this need as well: "Jesus…the… finisher of our faith." The one who authored faith in us now wants to perfect our faith (to mature it) in the same manner that He began it. Initially, we had to have Jesus revealed to us to have faith authored in us. Now, we must have a continuing revelation of Him through His word, if our faith is to be increasingly built up.

Lord Jesus, I praise You for authoring faith in me. Thank You for convincing me of my need of forgiveness of sins. Thank You for revealing to me Your great work on the cross. Thank You for inviting me to enter into a relationship with You. Please continue to reveal Yourself to me that my faith might grow and mature, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - October 12

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

We walk by faith, not by sight…while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. (2 Corinthians 5:7 and 4:18)

The Christian life is a walk. It is comprised of day by day steps from where we are to where the Lord wants us to go (both spiritually and geographically). This walk is undertaken by faith, not by sight. "We walk by faith, not by sight."

Walking by sight is the natural manner by which human beings walk. This is true both for literal walking, as well as for taking the proverbial journey through life. When engaged in physical walking, people rely upon visual data (along with input from other human senses, like sound, smell, and touch). Likewise, as the unredeemed are engaged in their trek through life, they set their course and proceed by that which their natural abilities provide. We who know the Lord Jesus Christ cannot walk in this manner in His kingdom. We must walk by faith, by depending upon our Lord, His word, and the work of grace by His Holy Spirit. Spiritual progress is made "while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen."

So often, things are not as they appear to be in the natural. Consider Joseph being sold to slave traders by his jealous and deceitful brothers. It did not look like Joseph was being groomed to be Prime Minister in Egypt. Think of Pharoah and his army closing in on Israel, as they were trapped beside the Red Sea. It did not look like Israel would be delivered and the Egyptian army would be destroyed. Remember young David standing before gigantic Goliath. It did not look like the giant would be defeated and David would enjoy a thorough victory. Only eyes of faith could really appreciate what was actually happening.

The cross of our Lord Jesus is undoubtedly the greatest example of things not always being what they appear to be. As Jesus hung upon the cross, it appeared that godless men had defeated the most godly man that ever lived. "Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst…Him…strong you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death" (Acts 2:22-23). Yet, in fact, God was at work, preparing a resurrection victory over sin and death for all who would believe. "Whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it" (Acts 2:24).

Heavenly Father, I want to walk with You by faith. I desire to respond to the circumstances of life by what You have said in Your word and by what You are able to do. Too many times, I have set my course by sight, relying upon the appearance of things. Teach me to trust in You more and more, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - October 11

Great Blessings through Living by Faith

Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: "For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him." But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:35-39)

Our present verses include the third time that Habakkuk's pronouncement on living by faith is repeated in the New Testament. "The just shall live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4). In Romans 1:17, it was connected with the gospel of Christ. In Galatians 3:12, it was contrasted with living under the law. Here, it is seen as the pathway to great blessings, such as: spiritual endurance, God-pleasing obedience, and pressing ahead in assurance.

The opening exhortation warns about forsaking bold dependence upon the Lord. "Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward." The loss of great blessing is the reason given. The Lord wants us to trust in Him without wavering, from the beginning of faith to the end of our earthly pilgrimage. This makes us consistent partakers of the blessings of grace that are ours in Christ. "For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end" (Hebrews 3:14).

These blessings include endurance. "For you have need of endurance." The Christian life requires spiritual stamina. The journey of growth, trials, service, and battle can become wearisome. We can be tempted to slack off, to quit pressing ahead. Such is always vain thinking for us, and it is displeasing to the Lord. "If anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him." It is by faith that we persevere in the Christian race. "Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Also, these blessings of faith include obedience and assurance. "You have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise." As we walk by faith, we are enabled to do God's will. Walking in obedience with Christ builds assurance that we will some day be in the presence of the Lord. "For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry." As we grow in faith, we can be assured that our profession will not be in vain. "Now the just shall live by faith… we are not of those who draw back to perdition but of those who believe to the saving of the soul."

Dear Father, I need more spiritual stamina. I desire to please You by obedience. I long to walk in more assurance. I praise You that all this is ours in Christ, by faith, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - October 10

Living by Faith Contrasted with Living by Law

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "The just shall live by faith." Yet the law is not of faith, but "The man who does them shall live by them." (Galatians 3:10-12)

In our previous meditation, we considered God's call to live by faith, given through the prophet Habakkuk. "Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4). We also looked at the first of three appearances of this quote in the New Testament. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ…for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith.'" (Romans 1:16-17). The second appearance is given in Galatians, where living by faith is contrasted with living by law.

This contrast between law and faith involves a curse that is related to the law. "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse." The curse is upon those who attempt to establish an acceptable relationship with God based on human works, as measured by God's holy law. The accompanying Old Testament quote explains the curse. "For it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them'." The curse is that those who choose to live by human performance under the law must always accomplish everything the law commands. Performance of some of the law's demands some of the time is unacceptable. This relentless pressure requiring perfect performance may seem curse enough. Yet, the consequences of inevitable failure intensify the curse. This dreadful consequence can be seen in the reminder of the blessed remedy that God's grace provides. "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree')" (Galatians 3:13-14). Those who violate any portion of the law's demands deserve the judgment that Jesus took on the cross.

This gracious provision of salvation through the substitutionary death of Christ reminds us that faith, not law, is our abundant hope. "But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for 'The just shall live by faith.' Faith depends upon the work of another, even Christ. Living by law is not living by faith. It is living by human performance. "Yet the law is not of faith, but 'The man who does them shall live by them.'"

Dear Lord, I praise You for taking upon Yourself the curse of the law that I deserved. My heart exults that the just shall live by faith, not by human performance. Please teach me to live by faith and not by law, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - October 9

Growing in Grace through Living by Faith

Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith…For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." (Habakkuk 2:4 and Romans 1:16-17)

In our previous devotions about Jesus as our ultimate example, we concluded our series on "humility and grace" and began to consider "faith and grace." If we want to grow in the grace of God, we must live by faith, since faith accesses grace. "We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Romans 5:2).

Our present, initial verse also builds upon our earlier studies about humility, which was repeatedly contrasted with pride. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). Habakkuk was inspired of the Spirit to state the same truth in this form. "Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him." James contrasted pride with humility. Here, the prophet concluded his statement by contrasting pride with faith. The proud person is depending upon himself. The humble person is willing to depend upon the Lord. The humble person is the one who will be growing in the grace of God.

This simple proclamation of living by faith is so profound that it is repeated in three strategic epistles in the New Testament. The first mention is in Romans in connection with the gospel of grace. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." Paul was not embarrassed by the good news of the grace of God that was available in Jesus Christ. He knew that it was God's powerful truth that would save the soul of anyone (Jew or Gentile) who would believe in Christ. That message of grace offered God's righteousness to all who would believe. "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith." The same righteousness that the law demanded, the gospel of grace provided. "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe" (Romans 3:21-22). The righteousness that people need (both for a standing in heaven and for a walk on earth) comes by grace through faith. Yes, initially and continually, "The just shall live by faith."

O righteous Lord, I praise You for the gift of Your righteousness, by grace through faith. My heart rejoices that I have a righteous standing before You in heaven above. My heart humbly cries out in faith for a daily impartation of that same righteousness in and through my life for a godly walk on earth below, through the grace of Christ, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - October 8

Jesus, the Ultimate Example of Faith's Results

"The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary…The Lord God has opened My ear…I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting. For the Lord God will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed." (Isaiah 50:4-7)

In our previous prophetic verses, we saw that the promised Servant of the Lord would undertake His Messianic mission through faith in His heavenly Father. "My God shall be My strength" (Isaiah 49:5). These verses depicted Jesus as the ultimate example of faith. Now, a corresponding prophetic passage reveals the blessed consequences of trusting in the Lord. Herein, we see Jesus as the ultimate example of faith's results.

Once again, the prophetic parties are the Messiah and His heavenly Father. The confessions of Jesus (trusting in the Father) comprise the prophetic statements. "The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned." Jesus was "discipled" day by day by the Father (certainly using, in part, His godly parents). "The Lord God has opened My ear." This equipped Jesus to minister to burdened lives: "that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary." In fact, people were amazed in general at the manner in which He spoke. "So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth" (Luke 4:22).

As Jesus would trust in the Father, He would also be prepared for the mounting difficulties that He would face. "I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting." In approaching the cross, these prophecies of Jesus (and the enablement He found through depending upon the Father) were fulfilled. "Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands" (Matthew 26:67). Though He knew all of this awaited Him before He came to Jerusalem that last time, He put His faith in the Father. "For the Lord God will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed." The Father helped Him. He marched on resolutely to keep His redemption appointment at the cross. "Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51). These are the wonderful consequences of faith.

Father, Your Son, my Savior, was prepared, strengthened, sustained, and used through faith in You. I need to experience these same blessed results of faith in my life. Please build my faith, more and more, for Your glory and service, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - October 7

Jesus, the Ultimate Example of Faith

And now the LORD says, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant…(for I shall be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and My God shall be My strength)…Thus says the LORD: "In an acceptable time I have heard You, and in the day of salvation I have helped You; I will preserve You." (Isaiah 49:5 and 8)

Numerous times throughout these hundreds of meditations, we have examined the relationship of "humility and faith" to "growing in grace." Such repeated opportunities assist us in apprehending the means of living day by day by grace. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble…we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (James 4:6 and Romans 5:2). For a number of days, we have been considering humility and grace. In a recent meditation, we saw that Jesus is the ultimate example of humility. Now, we begin to give considerable attention to faith and grace. Concerning faith, we begin where we left off with humility-with Jesus as our example. Again, we will see that Jesus is the ultimate example of faith.

Our present verses are a prophecy involving the Father and His Son, the Servant Messiah, who would go forth to provide God's gift of salvation. "And now the LORD says, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant." An angel would eventually announce this prophecy as coming to fulfillment. "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:20-21). The confession of the Messiah is also given here prophetically. "My God shall be My strength." When the Son would leave heaven for His incarnation, He would function by faith in the Father. The Father's reassuring words affirm this trust in Him. "Thus says the LORD: 'In an acceptable time I have heard You, and in the day of salvation I have helped You; I will preserve You.'"

The fact that Jesus lived by faith in His Father was a part of His own teaching ministry. "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner" (John 5:19). Herein, Jesus (who had laid aside the independent exercise of His deity) was exemplifying how man should live in humble dependence upon the faithfulness of God.

Dear Savior, I humble myself before You, expressing my desire to grow in grace. I know that faith accesses grace. Lord, please teach me to place my faith in You, just as You fully relied upon the Father, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - October 6

Jesus, the Ultimate Example of Godly Exaltation

He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:8-11)

There is an ungodly, self-sufficient exaltation that leads to defeat and dishonor. "Everyone who exalts himself will be abased" (Luke 18:14a). On the other hand, there is a godly, self-denying humility that leads to a proper exaltation. "He who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 18:14b). We saw in our previous meditation that Jesus was the ultimate example of humility. Here, we see that He is also the ultimate example of godly exaltation.

Jesus humbly surrendered Himself to the will of the Father, that our salvation might be secured through His atoning death. "He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." The results were glorious. God's great salvation was purchased for man, and God's Son was greatly exalted. "Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name." First, Jesus was raised victoriously from the dead and seated at the Father's right hand, being granted the name above all names. "He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:20). Some day He will return triumphantly. "Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war" (Revelation 19:11). Finally, He will rule forever sovereignly. "Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end…to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever" (Isaiah 9:7).

Those who must be forced to bow at the end will be separated from Him forever. Those who humbly bow and confess Him now will be exalted now (that is, "lifted up" now into heavenly realms of forgiveness, blessing, growth, and fruitfulness). Eventually, they will enter into His eternal exaltation (joint-heirs with Christ, serving Him forever)! The pathway is humility. He humbled Himself, yet, will rule eternally. We humble ourselves before Him now, yet we reign with Him forever!

Lord Jesus, what an amazing path You walked—from humble servanthood to a heavenly throne. What a grand exaltation will be Yours forever. What an astounding joy to know that I will join You in that exaltation, serving You eternally. Lord, I humble myself before You anew. Make me Your faithful servant now while I await the glorious privilege that is coming, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - October 5

Jesus, the Ultimate Example of Humility

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 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, and coming in the likeness of men. 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 2:5-8)

In order to live daily by the grace of God, we must be willing to walk in humility. "God … gives grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5). The word of God offers extensive teaching concerning a life of humility. Moreover, in all of the Scriptures we will find no greater insight than that which pertains to Jesus, the ultimate example of humility.

Before He came to earth as a man, Jesus had existed throughout eternity past as deity, the eternal Son of God. "Bethlehem …out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2). Since He was God, claiming deity was not an inappropriate intrusion into another's domain: "who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God." Although He would of necessity exist endlessly as God (even during His pilgrimage as a man), He did not go about independently exercising His Godhood: "but made Himself of no reputation." Instead of manifesting all of His innate glory, He functioned as any human slave would: "taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men." During His earthly ministry, He Himself would emphasize His servanthood role. "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).

In His majestic salvation mission, Jesus, the Son of God, would voluntarily accept the path of humility. "He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." This humility involved a yielding to the Father that was so extensive He would even embrace the most abhorrent death of all, a sin-atoning crucifixion. In spiritual agony, He would pray, "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). This humble surrender to the Father's will is the path that our Lord calls us to walk. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."

Dear Lord, my heart is humbled as I consider the humbling You accepted in coming to this sinful planet. As God, You deserved all honor and glory. Yet, in order to please the Father and to save sinners, You were willing to become a lowly, human servant. Unlike Your example, I am easily tempted to resist humility, even though I deserve to be totally humiliated. Lord, please work in me a humble heart like Yours, in Your holy name, Amen.

blueletterbible.com/devotion


"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - October 4

More on Contrasting Results for Self-Exaltation and Humility

And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, "God be merciful to me a sinner!"…everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:13-14)

Our present meditation continues Jesus' parable that warns against self-righteousness and encourages lowliness of mind. In this teaching, the Lord declares contrasting results for self-exaltation and humility. "Everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." The contrasting examples in the parable are the prayers of a vainglorious religious leader and a contrite publican.

The Pharisee's prayer was addressed to himself and was filled with glorying about himself. "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men…I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess'" (Luke 18:11-12). In stark contrast to this arrogant, feigned prayer, the tax collector would not so much as lift his countenance toward heaven. Instead, he pounded his guilt-ridden chest, humbly pleading for mercy. "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God be merciful to me a sinner'!" His attitude was like that of David, who knew he could not withstand the righteous judgment of God. "Do not enter into judgment with Your servant, for in Your sight no one living is righteous" (Psalm 143:2).

These two men (who both appeared to be praying to God) faced drastically differing results. "I tell you, this man [the humble publican] went down to his house justified rather than the other [the self-righteous religious leader]" (Luke 18:14a). The self-exalting Pharisee was abased. He was dishonored before God and confirmed in his guilty, unrepentant state. "Everyone who exalts himself will be abased." The humble tax collector was exalted. Through humble dependence, he was raised up to the blessed realm of justification. "To him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness" (Romans 4:5). He was declared not guilty, forgiven, righteous in God's sight. "He who humbles himself will be exalted."

Lord God, I deserve to be abased for the times I have exalted myself in Your sight. I want to take my stand with this repentant tax collector. I want to humble myself before You, pleading Your mercy. I hope in You to lift me up to new realms of obedience, godly growth, and service, through Christ Jesus, my Lord, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - October 3

Contrasting Results for Self-Exaltation and Humility

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, "God, I thank You that I am not like other men"…everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:11, 14)

The importance of Jesus' teaching here can be seen in its repetition on various occasions (Matthew 23:12 and Luke 14:11). The instruction sets forth the universal inevitability of contrasting results for self-exaltation and humility. "Everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

This particular proclamation of the message was given in a parable that warns against self-righteousness and encourages humility. "He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others" (Luke 18:9). The contrasting examples in the parable are the prayers of a self-assured religious leader and a repentant publican. "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector" (Luke 18:10). When the self-righteous Pharisee prayed, he was actually having a personal dialogue with himself, even though he vainly addressed his prayer to God?! "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself" (Luke 18:11a). He then appears to begin his prayer in a biblical manner, with an expression of thanksgiving. "In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6). However, his gratitude was based upon the ungodly assumption that he was innately better than others, particularly, this nearby publican. "God, I thank You that I am not like other men-extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector" (Luke 18:11b). Then, he proceeded to elaborate upon his own virtues by reviewing his religious performance, which obviously seemed very impressive to him. "I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess" (Luke 18:12).

This self-righteous Pharisee was so assured of his good standing with God. Yet, he was measuring himself by his own eyes and in comparison to others. The Scriptures that he would claim as his guide condemned such self-righteousness. "There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness" (Proverbs 30:12). Although man may have been impressed with his external behavior, God saw the abomination of his godless heart. "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15).

Dear Lord, I am so grateful that the blood of Christ washes away the times when I have talked or thought—or, even prayed—like this self-righteous Pharisee. Help me to humbly embrace Your perspective, not man's, in Jesus' name, Amen.

blueletterbible.com/devotion

"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - October 2

Spiritual Greatness through Childlike Humility

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:1-4)

Our God is great. "Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable" (Psalm 145:3). Since we were created to know our great God, we have a yearning to find true greatness. The counterfeit path to greatness for the world, the flesh, and the devil is through self-exaltation. "I will be like the Most High" (Isaiah 14:14). The heavenly path to find spiritual greatness is through childlike humility.

The disciples asked Jesus who had truly found greatness in His kingdom. "At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, 'Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?'" No doubt, to their amazement, he placed a little child in the middle of them. "And Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them." How could this small child give insight into their query? Jesus' words must have been staggering for them to receive. "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."

In the first place, no one can even enter into the Lord's kingdom without having a change of mind from the natural perspective of fallen humanity. We have such a self-sufficient, self-exalting viewpoint on life and how to find greatness. In order to become a child of God, we must be willing to adopt the Lord's perspective. Instead of us being capable of developing spiritually significant lives on our own, we must take the place of a humble, inadequate, needy child, looking to the Lord of life to give us eternal life. Then, in order to grow in spiritual substantiality, we must be willing to continue in a daily walk of childlike humility. "Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

This teaching had to fall like a stinging indictment upon their hearts, since their motivation in asking was based upon their repeated arguments over which of them was the greatest in His kingdom! "Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest…But there was also rivalry among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest" (Luke 9:46 and 22:24).

O, great and awesome Lord, I confess that I have often sought greatness through the self-exalting paths of this fallen world. Many times, I have compared myself to others, thinking that would make me the greater. Lord, I repent. I want to walk before You day by day as a humble, needy, dependent child of the great King of kings, Amen.

blueletterbible.com/devotion


"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - October 1

Scorn for the Scornful, Grace for the Humble

Surely He scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble. (Proverbs 3:34)

The Scriptures emphasize the Lord's commitment to pour out grace upon those who walk in humility, while opposing the path of those who walk in pride. "But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble'…Be clothed with humility, for 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble'… Though the LORD is on high, Yet He regards the lowly; But the proud He knows from afar" (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5; and Psalm 138:6). In our present verse we have another pointed example. "Surely He scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble."

It is an absolute certainty that the Lord will scorn the scornful. "Surely He scorns the scornful." The scornful person shows arrogant disregard for the Lord and His righteous ways. He is a mocker of godliness and a boaster in wickedness. The Lord will assuredly scorn such people. He will treat them with a holy disdain. He will reject their path with holy contempt.

For so many of us who have a heart for the Lord, walking scornfully before the Lord is not a likely attitude. However, somewhat related attitudes may become a part of our walk (even inadvertently). Pride and haughtiness are two of the most common, and most deadly. "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18). These companion evils could both be summarized as self-exaltation. Such an approach to life always results in devastating downfalls. These attitudes and their consequences are most fully illustrated by the history of the devil himself. Before he became the ultimate rebel against God, he was a magnificent, privileged angelic being. "You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God …You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you" (Ezekiel 28:14-15). This iniquity that developed was self-exaltation. "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!…For you have said in your heart:…I will be like the Most High" (Isaiah 14:12-14). This haughty exalting of self brought a disastrous fall, which will end up forever in hell itself.

May we choose daily to walk with God's humble saints, refusing to join the ranks of the proud, with their self-advancing schemes. "Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud" (Proverbs 16:19).

Lord God Most High, I repent of the times that I have exalted myself in word or deed or attitude. I renounce the prideful path of self-advancing humanity. I want to identify with Your humble saints, looking to You to shape and use our lives through Your abounding grace, Amen.

blueletterbible.com/devotion

Edited by: WESLEYV at: 10/1/2014 (15:45)
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Day By Day By Grace - September 30

Humility and the Fear of the Lord

By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life…with the humble is wisdom…The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 22:4; 11:2; and 9:10)

Many of our previous meditations have clearly demonstrated that walking in humility is the pathway for living by the grace of God. "God…gives grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5). In our present verses, we see that humility and the fear of the Lord are related.

Humility and the fear of the Lord result in the same blessings. "By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life." The closing trio ("riches and honor and life") are an Old Testament description of a life that is fully blessed by God. The New Testament counterpart would be fullness of spiritual life. "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). Humility and the fear of the Lord also result in wisdom. "With the humble is wisdom… The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom."

Humility is the candid acknowledgment of our absolute need for the Lord to work thoroughly in our lives day by day. The fear of the Lord is respect and reverence toward our great God. It is not a fear involving terror or apprehension. Rather, it is based upon profound admiration and dependent devotion.

Those who humbly fear the Lord (by placing their admiration and devotion in Him) also embrace His perspectives and values. They develop a hatred for the things that He hates. "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate" (Proverbs 8:13). Correspondingly, those who have respect and reverence for the Lord develop a love for all that He loves. The Lord loves for His people to walk in righteousness and justice. "The LORD loves the righteous…the LORD loves justice" (Psalm 146:8 and 37:28). The Lord loves Israel, His chosen nation. "The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples" (Deuteronomy 7:7). The Lord loves His church, the children of God. "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!" (1 John 3:1). The Lord loves the world, those who need to know Him. "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).

Lord God Almighty, I humbly bow before You, acknowledging my absolute need for You to work thoroughly in my life day by day. I want to walk in the fear of the Lord, placing my admiration and devotion in You. I want to hate all that You hate and love all that You love, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - September 29

Pride and Shame or Humility and Wisdom

When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom…The wise shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the legacy of fools. (Proverbs 11:2 and 3:35)

In order to live by the grace of God, we must be willing to walk in humility, instead of in pride. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5). We must be willing to acknowledge our daily, desperate need for God. Any other approach to life is based upon pride (which is a foolish, inaccurate assumption that we are adequate to produce a life on our own). Those who walk in pride end up with shame. Those who walk in humility end up with wisdom.

The Scriptures describe those who foolishly walk in pride, as well as declaring the shame that they experience. "When pride comes, then comes shame…shame shall be the legacy of fools." One example would be the wicked way that many privileged and powerful people persecute the downtrodden and the vulnerable. They are demonstrating their pride. "The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor; Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised" (Psalm 10:2). Their shame is that they can become entangled in the very schemes that they have contrived. Another example is seen in those who arrogantly oppose the people of God. "This they shall have for their pride, because they have reproached and made arrogant threats against the people of the LORD of hosts" (Zephaniah 2:10). Their shame was announced as a barrenness so severe as to be likened unto the end of Sodom and Gomorrah. "'Therefore, as I live,' says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, 'Surely Moab shall be like Sodom, and the people of Ammon like Gomorrah-overrun with weeds and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation'" (Zephaniah 2:9).

In contrast to the shame that comes to the prideful, is the wisdom (and resulting glory, or honor) that comes to the humble. "With the humble is wisdom… The wise shall inherit glory." Those who walk humbly before the Lord find the godly wisdom available in the Lord's infallible word. "The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple" (Psalm 19:7). This wisdom from God brings honor to the humble ones who live by it. "A man's pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor" (Proverbs 29:23). Again, this honor for the humble is in striking contrast to the wretched and ignoble end that pride engenders.

Dear Lord of Glory, how fitting that those who pridefully oppose You will be brought low and will end up in shame. I do not want to be numbered among them. I desire to walk in humility, to eagerly acknowledge my desperate need for You every day in every way, and to be compassionate toward the needy. I desire to bless Your people, to humbly seek the wisdom of Your word, and to be a vessel of honor unto You, through Christ Jesus, my Lord, Amen.

blueletterbible.com/devotion


"To God be the glory!!"


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Day By Day By Grace - September 28

More on Josiah Humbling Himself before the Lord

Thus says the LORD God of Israel: "Concerning the words which you have heard—because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you," says the LORD…"your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place and its inhabitants." (2 Chronicles 34:26-27)

King Josiah was a godly ruler, who purged the land of idolatrous activities. When the neglected word of God was discovered in the temple, he responded humbly as he heard it read. "Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Law, that he tore his clothes." He thereby escaped the judgment that was deserved by the rebellious people. Also, this appropriate wrath was postponed until after his reign.

These blessings of grace came because of Josiah's humble response to God's word. His heart was soft when he heard the word of the Lord: "Concerning the words which you have heard-because your heart was tender." The attitude of the heart toward the Scriptures is pivotal if a person is to experience God's grace at work in his life. A hardhearted response to the word of God does not receive the grace of God. The Israelites in Zechariah's day were a sad example of this. The Lord sent His word to them, "But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the LORD of hosts" (Zechariah 7:11-12).

Josiah's attitude was a vivid contrast. "You humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants." He did what James would later call God's people to do. "Receive with meekness the implanted word" (James 1:21). Josiah's humility was so evident. "You humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me." The result was that Josiah would enjoy the grace of God. His time of leadership would not have to go through the wrath that the people deserved from their previous rebellion and hardheartedness. "Your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place and its inhabitants."

Dear Lord, I confess that I have not always responded in humility before Your word. I thank You for Your forgiving grace. Yet, even more, I hunger for Your transforming grace. Shape my heart into a tender vessel that will meekly receive Your holy word, day by day, for Your honor and glory, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - September 27

Josiah Humbling Himself before the Lord

Then Hilkiah answered and said…"I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD"…Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Law, that he tore his clothes…[and said] "…great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD." (2 Chronicles 34:15, 19, and 21)

When Nebuchadnezzar and Manasseh humbled themselves before the Lord, our great God poured out amazing grace upon these formerly godless and prideful kings. Of course, it is not necessary to first be rebellious in order to be humbled and to become a recipient of further grace from God. This truth is illustrated by Josiah humbling himself before the Lord.

Josiah began to reign in Jerusalem at a very young age. "Josiah was eight years old when he became king" (2 Chronicles 34:1). When he was yet in the teen years, he began to pursue the Lord. "For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David" (2 Chronicles 34:3a). His quest for God led him to serve the Lord faithfully and courageously by destroying the implements of idolatry in the land. "In the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images. They broke down the altars of the Baals in his presence, and the incense altars which were above them he cut down" (2 Chronicles 34:3b-4).

Later, he ordered the temple to be repaired. "Now in the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had purged the land and the temple, he sent… [various leaders] …to repair the house of the LORD his God" (2 Chronicles 34:8). There, they found copies of God's word, which had been neglected for many years. "Then Hilkiah answered and said…'I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.'" Immediately, they took these precious writings to King Josiah. "Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Law, that he tore his clothes."

The Lord had instructed His leaders to rule by the truth of His word. "It shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book…And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes" (Deuteronomy 17:18-19). Josiah was humbled with intense grief, knowing this had been neglected and that severe judgment was in order. "Great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD."

O Lord God, my heart is torn when I think of the way Your word is neglected today. National leaders generally ignore it. Many church leaders compromise it. I have not given it appropriate attention. Let me be a Josiah in these wicked days, Amen.

blueletterbible.com/devotion


"To God be the glory!!"


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