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nChrist
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« Reply #315 on: November 22, 2006, 10:39:43 AM »

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.  (1Ti_1:12, 1Ti_1:14)

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 vanity 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" (Gal_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" (Gal_2:9). Still, our appointment is from the Lord: "to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles" (2Ti_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" (Act_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" (Col_1:25 and Eph_3:2).

To put Paul into effective ministry, God Himself had to do the necessary strengthening work, as well as 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 by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
(Courtesy of Bob Hoekstra and Living in Christ Ministries)

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« Reply #316 on: November 23, 2006, 11:16:38 PM »

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.  (1Ti_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" (Act_26:9). Part of his sin of blasphemy was incurred attempting to force Christians to speak evil of the Lord. "And I punished them often . . . and compelled them to blaspheme" (Act_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" (Act_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" (Act_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" (Phi_3:4-6).

Nevertheless, all of this godless 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 by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
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« Reply #317 on: November 23, 2006, 11:18:07 PM »

November 24

Once 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; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.  (1Ti_1:12-14)

Before Paul believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, he spoke evil of Jesus, oppressed His followers, and exalted himself. "I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man." Yet, God called Paul from this ungodly religious life and made him a faithful, fruitful servant of the Lord. Once more we will see this can only happen by exceedingly abundant grace for transformation.

This magnificent transformation process began with mercy, the necessary companion of grace. God's mercy holds back the awful consequences that our ungodliness deserves. God's grace brings us the wonderful blessings of godliness that we could never deserve. God was merciful toward Paul's ignorant and unbelieving behavior. "But I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." The ministry of grace that God would eventually give to Paul (as well as any ministry God has for us) was established upon mercy. "Therefore, since we have this ministry [new covenant grace 2Co_3:6], as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart" (2Co_4:1). God chose Paul to be a distinctive example of His rich mercy. "For this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life" (1Ti_1:16).

This grand project of transformation then proceeded with grace. "And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus." This bountiful grace brought two spiritual blessings (faith and love) that would be essential for Paul's ministry. Paul had been a man of religious works and self-righteousness. God turned him into a man of faith. "The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith' " (Rom_1:17). He had been a man of cruel hatred and religious prejudice. God turned him into a man of love. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love" (Gal_5:6).

O Lord of rich mercy and exceedingly abundant grace, I worship You. I thank You for mercifully holding back the judgment I deserved. I praise You for graciously bringing to me wonderful blessings that I could never deserve. Now, by Your bountiful grace, please work in my heart more faith and love, that I might serve and honor You more effectively. In Your mighty name I pray, Amen.

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Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
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« Reply #318 on: November 25, 2006, 06:53:52 PM »

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.  (2Co_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 them certainly revealed that the saints in Corinth were experiencing many problems. Yet, his second letter showed that 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. This process 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" (2Co_8:1-2). The churches in Macedonia were burdened for the churches in Judea that were undergoing great material need. The amazing fact is that the Macedonian churches were very needy themselves ("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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Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
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« Reply #319 on: November 25, 2006, 06:55:11 PM »

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.  (1Pe_5:10)

We have been considering God's grace as "much more" (Rom_5:17, Rom_5:20), as "exceeding" (2Co_9:14), and as "exceedingly abundant" (1Ti_1:14). These terms appropriately 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" (Heb_9:15). Meanwhile, until He returns for us, He wants to develop our lives spiritually during our pilgrimage here on earth.

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" (Heb_13:20-21 and Eph_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 to head for 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" (Luk_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" (Eph_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" (Eph_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 by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
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Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
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« Reply #320 on: November 27, 2006, 02:32:50 AM »

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.  (1Pe_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" (Heb_5:8). He experienced the agonies that can be involved in obeying 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" (1Pe_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" (2Ti_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" (1Pe_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" (2Co_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' " (2Co_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 of the work You are doing, in Jesus name, Amen.

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Day-By-Day By Grace by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
(Courtesy of Bob Hoekstra and Living in Christ Ministries)

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
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« Reply #321 on: November 28, 2006, 09:01:00 AM »

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.  (Luk_2:40, Luk_2:52)

In our previous devotional, we looked at the suffering that prepares us for God's grace to work in our lives, developing us spiritually. Jesus was given as the primary example of this truth. In our present verses, we see Jesus as the example of grace developing our lives comprehensively.

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" (Phi_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" (Col_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" (Col_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" (Luk_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?' " (Mat_17:5 and Joh_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" (Eph_5:8, Eph_5:10 and Phi_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.

____________________

Day-By-Day By Grace by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
(Courtesy of Bob Hoekstra and Living in Christ Ministries)

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
Full Featured - Outstanding - Completely FREE - No Strings Attached

(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
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« Reply #322 on: November 29, 2006, 09:45:10 AM »

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.  (Psa_45:2 and Col_4:6)

In our two previous meditations, we saw Jesus as our two-fold example. First, He exemplified the suffering that prepares us for more of God's grace to work in our lives. Second, He exemplified the related issue of God's grace developing 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." The manner in which the grace of God guided and poured forth through the words of Jesus 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" (Luk_4:22). One of the distinctive aspects of Jesus' words was the unique authority that this outpoured 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" (Luk_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!' " (Joh_7:45-46).

The Lord intends for this same grace to impact our speech. "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" (Eph_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.

____________________

Day-By-Day By Grace by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
(Courtesy of Bob Hoekstra and Living in Christ Ministries)

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
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Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
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« Reply #323 on: November 30, 2006, 04:49:51 AM »

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.  (Act_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" (Heb_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" (Act_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" (Act_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.

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" (Col_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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« Reply #324 on: December 01, 2006, 10:08:02 PM »

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.  (Act_11:23; Act_13:43)

Whenever the grace of God is allowed to work in human hearts, visible spiritual evidences eventually 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" (Joh_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 abundance of 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: "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 something we are to be seeking after 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" (2Co_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 You grace more each day!

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« Reply #325 on: December 02, 2006, 10:53:07 PM »

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.  (Act_14:21-22; Act_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" (Act_11:23; Act_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" (Jud_1:3). 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 growing 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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« Reply #326 on: December 04, 2006, 01:46:02 AM »

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.  (Act_20:32 and Jam_1:21)

Paul's exhortation to followers of Jesus Christ was to "continue in the faith" (Act_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" (1Pe_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" (Mat_4:4). We cannot truly continue in grace without regularly partaking of "the word of His grace." If we humbly take in God's word consistently, the grace of God at work through the word will demonstrate the transforming power of the Bible: "which is able to save your souls." This delivering work of the scriptures 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" (Joh_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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« Reply #327 on: December 04, 2006, 01:47:50 AM »

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.  (Act_20:32; Joh_8:3; 1Co_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" (Act_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. The natural bent of our 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 previously 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" (2Ti_2:11-14). Such vital truths need to be considered repeatedly. The Apostle Peter knew that it would amount to spiritual irresponsibility to neglect the import of reminders. "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" (2Pe_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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« Reply #328 on: December 05, 2006, 01:45:26 AM »

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.  (Act_20:32 and 2Ti_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 is able to provide what is needed for the life we are called to live. This necessary grace is held forth for our learning and appropriating in "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" (2Ti_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" (Eph_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" (1Pe_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 matter the Lord wants to bring to 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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« Reply #329 on: December 06, 2006, 12:12:35 PM »

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.  (Act_20:32 and 2Ti_3:16-17)

God's word (which is "the word of His grace") is characterized by heavenly capability: "which is able . . . and is profitable for." By God's grace at work, the scriptures can bring us increasingly 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 the instrumentality of men, its 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." This involves the teaching ministry of the word, revealing to us the path of godliness. "Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path" (Psa_119:105). Also, God's word "is profitable for . . . reproof." This involves the admonishing ministry of the word, telling 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" (1Co_10:11). Further, God's word "is profitable for . . . correction." This involves the restoring ministry of the word, calling 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" (Isa_55:7).

Finally, God's word "is profitable for . . . instruction in righteousness." This involves the transforming ministry of the word, moving 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" (2Co_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 preparing us comprehensively 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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