A WORLD THAT DOES NOT KNOW GRACE

Having something done for you when you are undeserving is grace. This is evident in so many ways in our lives and can be easily shared by us with others. The primary agent is the Holy Spirit. When we have His presence in our lives then the self-centered lusts of flesh and human nature are pushed aside and that which personifies grace (Galatians 5:16-26) comes to the forefront. For this to happen our spirit must connect with the Holy Spirit which happens when we read God’s Word and when we are in prayer (Romans 8:15-17).

Christian fellowship is also an agent of God’s grace (Malachi 3:16). When we gather with other Christians (as the Bible tells us where 2 or 3 are gathered) their is God’s presence. This growth in grace must then be shared with others as it so often is. This can be done (stirred up) by the laying on of hands (2 Timothy 1:6) or perhaps in a simple hug whether a person is in need or not. As believers we are not to neglect this as Paul shares in 1 Timothy 4:14 and in the doing we and others will grow in grace as our Lord and Savior would desire for us.

God’s purpose in all this is that we be assured of His many blessings and that life in the here and now is stable of purpose (Ephesians 4:11-16). This is necessary for at every turn lies the devil waiting (1 Thessalonians 3:5) to pull our spirit away from God and to a love of the world (1 John 2:15-17). A WORLD THAT DOES NOT KNOW GRACE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The means of grace is a measurement of our maturity as Christians.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Galatians 5:16 “walk in the spirit”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord fill me with grace.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How can we show grace to others?
  2. How does our spirit connect with the Holy Spirit?
  3. Why are Bible studies, fellowship groups and worship services important?
  4. How can the simple act of giving a hug be a ministry?

WHY?

For every effect there is a cause. To find that cause a good journalist or one who seeks the truth has to ask the five tough questions of who, what, when, where and why. The how then seems to fall right in place. This is important when understanding the nature of justification. An act which considers all of us guilty via original sin yet innocent before God. My understanding is that though we are born in sin, Christ’s death redeemed us from sin and by His grace we are saved. In other words we can’t earn our way to salvation but we can fall out of grace.

With this understanding my works become the evidence of my faith as explained in James 2:14-26. There are numerous ways faith can be shown as being dead. A death that exists when the body is without the spirit (vs. 26). When the Holy Spirit is present within us and our faith is alive then the entire world outlook changes.

When we are justified and receive it fully into our lives then life is running on all its cylinders and the fruits are many. Scripture tells us we will understand the concept of forgiveness, we will live in peace and holiness and we will know the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:7).

The evidence of this will be our works as understood earlier in my comments. It will also be seen in our wisdom (understanding) mentioned in James 3:17, our patience (James 5:7-8) and perhaps even a need to suffer (James 5:10) as Christ’s Apostles and Disciples did before us. When confronted about the reason for your Christian faith this becomes the answer to the question of WHY?

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: God’s justification shows us just before the divine judgment.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: James 2:14-26 “How faith proves itself”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for taking away my guilt.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. In what ways can faith be shown as dead?
  2. How does man abuse the idea of justification (reason used for actions)?
  3. How can a perfect God and His Word be used to justify our lifestyle?
  4. Why are fully understanding the who,what,when,where, why and how important in all matters we question?

GRACE

In this one word we have the key that unlocks the door to all things glorious. Without grace humankind is no better than the worst thing our mind could ever imagine. To understand grace we must first understand that all people sin as noted in Ecclesiastes 7:20 and pleading ignorance will not go unpunished (Leviticus 5:17).

For a moment consider the meaning of grace and a gracious God. Though deserving of punishment we have a God so good that this act of mercy and kindness is offered to all including the undeserving as a free gift from Jesus Christ who is God’s only Son Who sacrificed Himself on the cross for our sins (Romans 3:24).

This salvation comes to us through our faith and trust in Jesus. It is available to all mankind (Titus 2:11) and once received will result in good works (Ephesians 2:8-10) done for others bringing glory to God and not for a purpose of bringing honor to self.

Grace is a most amazing word from the Greek ‘charis’ which means beautiful. Indeed when we say someone is charismatic we see in them the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. As those fruits and gifts are shown and grow we are in truth seeing the molding of a person by God’s mighty hands.

Today we need to look at our lives and those of others around us and ask if we have come to that ultimate feeling of brokenness that drives us to faith, or if our lifestyle and comforts are keeping us from God. We need to understand that grace carries a warming label and we can fall from it. Christ warned us of this in Matthew 26:41 and Peter affirmed it in 2 Peter 3:17.

To all we need to know that it is important for us to strive for sinless perfection knowing that only when we leave this sinful body will we find it in eternity and understand fully the true meaning of GRACE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Grace grows through God’s goodness.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Titus 2:11 “salvation is available to all”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord keep me in Your grace.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How do you understand grace?
  2. What are the dangers of grace?
  3. How does someone fall from grace?
  4. What makes a person charismatic?

 

 

GUILTY AS CHARGED!

For those who believe perfection on earth is possible let me burst your bubble. There is a flaw in every diamond and in every journey of faith man undertakes. This is clearly pointed out in James 2:10. If you stumble on one point of God’s law it is the same as if you broke them all.

Keep in mind when this was written the Jewish people then as now had 613 rules to follow. King David tried to reduce these to the eleven rules of Psalm 15 but that would not help. Man by nature is sinful. Where real problems lie is when we move from a place of unconscious sin to one of conscious sin. That is where society is going today. As a society we are no longer shocked at the evident evil that is all around us.

But thanks be to God that we are still able to be reconciled to God. The process is explained in Romans 10:9-10. Confess with your mouth your faith in Christ Jesus and believe in your heart in His death and resurrection to the assurance of your salvation. Reconciliation complete.

I do believe once a person has taken this step in life that your life will change dramatically. As evidence of our love and trust we will not only observe but be eager to do so the rules of behavior God has set before us. When accused by others of our momentary  and unintentional weakness we can say GUILTY AS CHARGED but God’s free gift of grace offers forgiveness to me.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Reconciliation with our Redeemer is key to a righteous life.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: James 2:10 “perfection impossible”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen me to live a righteous life.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Of what are you guilty?
  2. What are King David’s 11 characteristics of the Godly in Psalm 15?
  3. How is society moving from a state of unconscious sin to one of conscious sin?
  4. How does reconciliation work?

RELATED BLOGS: Assured of salvation! and Let’s Get Together!

WARNING: THE DANGER OF NEGLECT!

Each day of our lives we are confronted by various warning signs. It could be anything from how we care for our bodies to how we observe signs installed along roadways for our well-being. Disobedience in regard to any of these warnings brings judgment upon us in some form.

Across this land those who break what society considers it’s most crucial warnings put people before court justices. When they pass judgment of deliverance from a guilty charge or condemnation for breaking a law the accused often react with strong emotion.

Imagine for a moment then how you (or someone you fail to warn) would react if you neglected to respond to your duties as a Christian. Material neglect is one matter but spiritual neglect is an entirely different matter.

If for example we neglect the Gospel which Christ speaks of in Matthew 22:1-14 through the example of a wedding invitation we face “being cast into outer darkness (vs. 13)”. These are not my words but Christ Himself who spoke them. Judgment in a courtroom on earth is minuscule in comparison to standing before God’s White Throne Judgment.

Today every living soul on earth can receive their salvation and avoid the judgment before God other than for rewards that will be given to those saved. Simply believe in Christ (Acts 4:12) and by your faith through God’s grace your salvation is assured (Hebrews 2:1-3). Ignore and WARNING THE DANGER OF NEGLECT is yours to face.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Neglect the opportunity to be near to God and expect to spend eternity in the neighborhood of darkness.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Hebrews 2:3 “Neglect salvation and face the consequences”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for showing me the path to salvation.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What are the various types of warning signs we face in life?
  2. What judgments go with the breaking of the various signs?
  3. What is spiritual neglect?
  4. How does society today show spiritual neglect?

MUST SEE MOVIE!

Last evening my wife and I went to a movie entitled ‘War Room’. I would recommend it to everyone. It is about war but not the typical Hollywood junk that you see on the screen that we should be to embarrassed to watch. This war was the battle for a person’s heart and soul as seen in the example of marriage among the many other wars that take place in our lives.

What struck me most about the movie was the war room where the fiercest of battles toke place and out of which came examples of grace (unmerited favor) that served as examples for all at the theater. To understand that room you will need to go to the movie but it can be and for me was a life changing moment.

Grace is a wonderful thing when bestowed by God and which we also can give in a different sort of way. To do this we must first of all understand the fact that it can and should be of great (Acts 4:33) amount especially if used in our freely witnessing to the importance of the Christian faith.

All believers should be shouting this message from the roof top. The message being that as overwhelming as sin seems to be there is enough of God’s grace to cover it all. No one, no matter how sinful a life they have lived is not welcome to receive this unmerited favor. Simply believe, confess and be baptized in the Lord. As Christ Himself tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9 He has grace sufficient for all of us. In fact the more broken we are the greater the ‘grace-filled’ experience.

We are all undeserving of grace as shown in the words of Paul in 1 Timothy 1:12-16. Yet despite this we continue to receive God’s grace and favor. In 1 Peter 4:10 we see how God’s grace is manifold and we all have been given a gift which we must use to further His name. This is not just a movie but a command from God to go and preach the Gospel and practice mercy in our lifetime.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The goodness of God shines through the grace He desires to give to all.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 2 Corinthians 12:9 “God’s grace is all sufficient”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for the grace You have bestowed on me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1. What are your movie viewing habits?

2. Examples of grace you have shown to others?

3. Examples of God’s grace you have received?

4. Are you willing to go to war with the devil in order that grace may fill your life and that of others you pray for?

RELATED BLOGS: The best gift of all!! and Why should God be gracious?

 

ASSURED OF SALVATION!

Have you ever been saved or saved yourself from death? That may seem a strange question but I have. On at least three occasions I believe God intervened when my earthly life could have come to an end. A brick falling on my head, falling asleep while driving, and nearly drowning were my eye opening events. The problem is eye opening events may lead to us uttering the words “thank you Jesus” but that is as far as it goes.

As readers of this devotional I suspect you would consider yourself Christian and to do so means that you confess Christ which is critical to our eternal salvation. God’s Word speaks of this confession in telling us what can hinder us from doing it. It also speaks of its necessity (see related blog below) and what a confession should contain in its content.

Today I want to share what I believe prompts us to confess. As with any life event something has to trigger or set it off. If that ‘trigger’ is not there then nothing happens and in the case of confession it is not done and salvation is not assured.

The first key is a person must, as Romans 10:9 tells us, have faith (see category). Faith is not simply uttering a few words in a church building or prayer but is also based on a believing heart. To believe means you understand and accept certain teachings about God. Therefore a real faith is one based on a combination of knowledge, wisdom and understanding which comes only with our dedication to hearing and studying the Word of God.

True confession not only must be based on faith but also on the presence of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Cor. 12:3 we are told that no one can confess Christ unless it is by the Holy Spirit (see category). If there is such a thing as a dead Christian or dead faith it is because the person like a robot or computer spits out words but their is no Spirit (God’s Spirit) present behind the utterance.

On other occasions I have spoken of the Holy Sprit and the power that comes with His presence and so it is that when you marry the Holy Spirit  and faith you can have ASSURANCE OF SALVATION.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY:  Coming to a point in life to confess Christ will be the cause that leads to salvation.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY:  Romans 10:9  “faith prompts our confessing Christ”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:  Lord fill me with Your Spirit so I may truly confess You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1. What are some triggers for key life events?

2. Have you married the Holy Spirit and faith in your life?

3. Is it possible to be a ‘dead Christian’?

4. Have you experienced life changing events?

RELATED BLOG:  What must I do to be saved?

SOLD!

Anyone who has ever desired to purchase something likes to hear the word sold. Ownership goes with it and now the object is yours. At one time we had slavery as the law of the land and human beings could be bought and sold but thankfully that ended accept for one very small aspect (yet vitally important) which is that the body of mankind still belongs to God.

Some say if you break our body down into its basic elements the value is mere pennies but when you place a soul into our fleshly container the value or price increases dramatically. It is not unlike a painting which if I had painted it it would be lucky to sell but if some great artist had their name on it , it would bring millions of dollars perhaps. It all comes down to who created the work and at what price was it bought.

So it is with the body of mankind. We are all created by God which is why the body of mankind belongs to God. For that reason we have great value. But the free will given us by our Creator and the sinful path we choose devalues us to the point that many are sold some day on a “fire sale”. Despite this God knew with a little work on our part we still have great value and so He purchased us with the greatest price anyone could ever make which is the persecution and death of His Son. With that price being paid we now, as our verse for today tells us, are body and spirit owned by God. Today we remember that price paid and with the sale complete we should proudly display in our lives and person the sign “SOLD” our for Jesus.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY:  Our body bought with Christ’s blood belongs to God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY:  1 Cor. 6:20  “who owns us”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:  Lord I belong to You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1. Who owns you?

2. How does the ownership of your body and soul change your behavior?

3. How is slavery like being under Satan’s control?

4. In what way do you show that you are a “work of God”?

 

THE BEST GIFT OF ALL!!

It’s a wonderful time of the year when families gather to celebrate the birth of Someone Who’s greatness is beyond description and yet is Someone who society and we the people who live in it seem more and more interested in  pushing into the background. That person of course is Jesus Christ and today as we remember His birth we also want to remember the gift that came with that birth.

A gift brought by Christ unlike those brought by “Santa Claus” is one that nearly defies description. The gift I describe is GRACE which we are told in the verse of today Christ wants us all to receive so that “none should perish”. The question then is the process necessary for us to gain this unmerited favor or gift of grace.

First the obvious answer is we have to receive it. A gift becomes a gift only when there is an exchange. As you eagerly open that item of clothing, etc. from family and friends think about opening your heart to God’s gift of unmerited forgiveness then try it on and show it to others. Grace does not require any extra attention like earthly gifts but once received we can wear it permanently without ever thinking of removing it.

After wearing it for a while we should let it do its magic for when we put on grace how we feel about our selves will change. As you would show that new garment to others so you should desire to give the gift of grace you received to others as well. We do this in all our actions (thoughts, words and deeds) as we grow into and gain strength from this special gift. As the next few hours play out you who read this may well open many wonderful packages given by those who love us but there is no one who loves us more or who has a better gift for us then our Lord God. May each of you receive His gift of grace today.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY:  The greatest gift we can receive through Christ is the gift of grace by our faith.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY:  2 Peter 3:9  “what God desires we receive”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:  Lord I thank you for all your gifts.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1. How do you celebrate special “birth” days?

2. Have you opened our Lord’s gift to you?

3. If you have received God’s grace how does it look on you?

4. Have you shared God’s gift with others?