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nChrist
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« Reply #345 on: December 23, 2006, 02:15:28 AM »

December 22

Praying Without Ceasing to the God of All Grace

The God of all grace . . . pray without ceasing.  (1Pe_5:10 and 1Th_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. God's grace is to be drawn upon by 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 is not requiring the incessant reciting of prayers. Rather, it is a call to a way of living: "continuing steadfastly in prayer" (Rom_12:12). Praying without ceasing is an attitude of the heart, as well as an addressing of prayers consistently to the Lord. To pray without ceasing is to have the inner man focused in humble dependence 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" (1Ti_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" (Rom_1:9; Eph_1:16; and 2Ti_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 directed to the Lord in prayer. Some testify of his habit of prayer. "Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice" (Psa_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!" (Jer_16:19; Jer_17:14; and Jer_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" (Dan_6:10). Likewise, all who want to 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.

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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 #346 on: December 23, 2006, 02:17:18 AM »

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?  (1Th_5:17 and Luk_18:1, Luk_18:7)

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.

Jesus' primary message 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' illustration involved 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" (Luk_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 the holy motivations of our loving God, who will certainly respond to the needs of His chosen ones, as they call upon His name ceaselessly. "And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him?" (Luk_18:7). The Lord Jesus hereby encourages us to pray without ceasing.

Jesus' call to a life of persistent prayer was commended to us by His own example. "Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed" (Mar_1:35). Early in the inspired recordings of the ministry of Jesus, His habit of prayer is noted. At times, Jesus was up before dawn for extended prayer with the Father. 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" (Luk_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" (Mat_11:25; Luk_9:16; and Joh_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.

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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 #347 on: December 23, 2006, 02:19:13 AM »

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.  (Eph_6:18)

Through His word, God calls us to lives of continual prayerfulness. "Pray without ceasing" (1Th_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" (Luk_18:1 and Mar_1:35). Our present verse is another call to praying without ceasing.

The context concerns appropriating 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" (Eph_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 to Him: 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" (Mar_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 amounts to 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" (Phi_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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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 #348 on: December 23, 2006, 02:21:01 AM »

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.  (Col_1:9-10)

As we have seen, the Lord calls us in various ways to pray without ceasing. Every day in every way, every issue of life is to be engaged through continual, Spirit-led prayerfulness: "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit" (Eph_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: "do not cease to pray for you." God's will was the primary issue the Holy Spirit impressed Paul to pray about: "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" (1Th_4:3; 1Th_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" (Joh_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 that is appropriate for identifying with Him and His great gospel of grace. "Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Phi_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" (Eph_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" (Psa_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" (Jer_31:31, Jer_31:33 and 2Co_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" (Eph_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.

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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 #349 on: December 29, 2006, 02:06:44 AM »

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.  (Col_1:9-12)

In our previous meditation, we began to examine a classic illustration of Spirit-led praying. The basic request of this majestic prayer concerned learning about, and walking 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 consider more on a 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" (2Co_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" (Phi_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" (Eph_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" (2Pe_3:18).

Another vital part of God's will for us is spiritual empowering: "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" (Phi_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!

____________________

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
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
of charge, and that goal gets closer by the day.)
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« Reply #350 on: December 29, 2006, 02:08:42 AM »

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.  (Heb_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 prayerfulness 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" (Rev_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" (Rev_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!' " (Rev_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" (Rev_20:11-13, Rev_20:15).

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!" (Rev_5:6, Rev_5:12). 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' " (Rom_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" (Eph_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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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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« Reply #351 on: December 29, 2006, 02:11:23 AM »

December 28

More on 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.  (Heb_4:16)

Seated upon the throne which rules this universe is the sovereign, holy, Judge of all humanity. Yet, He is also the "God of all grace" (1Pe_5:10). All who relate rightly to Him (through humble faith in Jesus Christ) can come boldly to that throne, praying with assurance that mercy and grace will be His response.

Truly, the Lord Jesus is the reason that we can answer the invitation to "come boldly to the throne of grace." His death on the cross opened the way for us to come into God's presence, allowing us to talk to Him directly in prayer. It is as though the Holy of Holies is now our family den. God is our Father, who delights to commune with His children as we pray to Him: "Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us" (Heb_10:19-20). This "new and living way" is the new covenant of grace. It is by the Lord's grace alone that we can come to His throne of grace, that we might live daily by His grace.

At this inviting throne of God, we "obtain mercy." Mercy is heaven's wondrous companion to grace. Mercy is God's provision for holding back from us the awful things that we actually deserve, due to our sin and rebellion. "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). Now, each day, His children can benefit from the faithful mercies of God. "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness" (Lam_3:22-23).

Also, at this inviting throne of God, we "find grace to help in time of need." Our initial need was for the Lord's saving grace, which brought forgiveness for our ungodliness and made heaven our eternal home "For by grace you have been saved through faith" (Eph_2:8). Our ongoing need would be for transforming grace for the developing of a godly life here on earth. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age" (Tit_2:11-12). In prayer at the throne of grace, we find God's continuing supply of grace. That grace is irreplaceable and sufficient to sustain us through, and use us in, the needy situations we encounter daily at home, work, school, church, wherever.

O Lord, supplier of all mercy and grace, I rejoice that Your mercies are new every day. Have mercy on me, dear Lord! I praise You that Your all-encompassing grace is available through humble, trusting prayer. Pour Your grace out on me, dear Lord!

____________________

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
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
of charge, and that goal gets closer by the day.)
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« Reply #352 on: December 29, 2006, 02:13:15 AM »

December 29

Walking with Jesus the Way We Received Him

As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him . . . Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?  (Col_2:6 and Gal_3:3)

In this vital matter of relating rightly to the Lord, one common mistake is attempting to develop our Christian walk in a different manner than we began it. Our present verse points us to the proper outlook. We are to build our life with the Lord upon the very same terms that we began that life. "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." We are to walk with Jesus the way we received Him.

We received the Lord and His great salvation as gifts of grace. "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! . . . For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God" (2Co_9:15 and Eph_2:8). We must, therefore, walk in Him with a "grace-receiving" mentality.

"And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for [upon] grace" (Joh_1:16). We must never attempt to treat the Christian life as something we can manufacture or earn. Sinful, earthly fathers were created with a desire to give beneficial gifts to their children. Even more so, our holy, heavenly Father has a heart to give all that is needed to those who are willing to ask and receive. "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!" (Mat_7:11).

Gal_3:3 reinforces the necessity of keeping our pattern for beginning a walk with God the same one we use for developing that walk: "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" These rhetorical questions warn of the deadly danger of having our approach to Christian growth differ from how we found spiritual birth. The Holy Spirit alone was able to bring us spiritual birth. The flesh of man could avail nothing.

"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (Joh_3:6). The Holy Spirit must bring us spiritual progress. The flesh can contribute nothing. "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing" (Joh_6:63). Any change in approach from birth to growth is foolishness. It is doomed to failure.

We began by grace, so we must continue by grace. We began by the Spirit, so we must continue by the Spirit. Yes, we are to walk with Jesus the way we received Him. Any changes in approach are unacceptable, ineffective, impossible.

Heavenly Father, You are such a generous giver. You gave me Your Son and His salvation as a gift of grace. You gave me new life by a work of Your Holy Spirit. Now, I want to walk in Christ these same ways, in His gracious name, Amen.

____________________

Day-By-Day By Grace by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
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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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« Reply #353 on: December 31, 2006, 10:06:59 PM »

December 30

More on Walking with Jesus the Way We Received Him

As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.  (Col_2:6-7)

The manner in which we received the Lord is the very same manner in which we are to walk in Him. "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." We received Him by grace, we must walk by grace. We were born again by the Spirit, we must walk by the Spirit. Furthermore, when we first received Christ, He was our only hope. Now, we are to walk with Him the same way.

It is good to recall how Jesus was the comprehensive focus of our beginning with Him. When we received Him and His forgiveness, we knew He had to provide all that was needed for our salvation. We agreed with the word of God that there was no other hope than Jesus. "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me' . . . Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Joh_14:6 and Act_4:12). We knew that we could supply nothing ourselves. We were spiritually dead, having no righteousness at all: "dead in trespasses and sins . . . all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags" (Eph_2:1 and Isa_64:6). We had entered the blessed condition of being convicted of our own spiritual bankruptcy. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Mat_5:3). Jesus was our comprehensive focus, our only hope.

This is how we are to walk in Him today. We need the Lord Jesus as much now for living the Christian life, as we needed Him at the beginning to be born again into it. For growth and victory and fruitfulness, He is the one we must focus upon. "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving." We need to be rooted in Him, having our faith reaching out to Him for nutrition and strength, even as the roots of a tree reach into the soil. We need to be built up in Him, having our lives developed by His work in us. We need to be established in the faith, allowing Him to stabilize us through the study of His word. This will lead to lives of overflowing appreciation, grateful that "Christ is all and in all" (Col_3:11). Truly, we need the Lord Jesus as much now for living the Christian life, as we needed Him at the beginning to be born again into it.

Lord Jesus, my all in all, You were my only hope for beginning a new life with You. Today, You are my only hope for growing in this life with You. Please remind me that my need for You never diminishes. It is constant and comprehensive. Thank You for always being available!

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« Reply #354 on: December 31, 2006, 10:08:35 PM »

December 31

The Manifold Grace of God

The manifold grace of God . . . but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ . . . Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.  (1Pe_4:10; 2Pe_3:18 and Gal_6:18)

The manifold grace of God is such an appropriate truth for our concluding meditation. It is both humbling and faith building to be reminded of the majestic diversity of God's grace.

God's grace is manifold. It is like a heavenly diamond with innumerable facets. Every vantage point reflects a new insight into the gracious resources of our Lord. From some biblical viewpoints, the justifying grace of God is seen: "justified freely by His grace" (Rom_3:24). Yet, our devotional studies have concentrated upon sanctifying grace, grace for growing. "But grow in . . . grace." Many scriptural vistas display this sanctifying grace in its manifold beauty. It can be seen stabilizing the inner man. "It is good that the heart be established by grace" (Heb_13:9). It can also be seen in its edifying ability.
"I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up" (Act_20:32). From another angle, God's sanctifying grace can be seen for its strengthening capacity. "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2Ti_2:1). It can also be observed in its fruit producing role: "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_1:6). It can also be seen in its ministry developing function. "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1Co_15:10). From still another viewpoint, the sanctifying grace of God can be seen sustaining through the agonies of one's "thorny impossibilities." "My grace is sufficient for you" (2Co_12:9). What heavenly riches await us in a lifetime of observing, and appropriating, God's manifold grace.

What final words would be fitting for us now? The closing benediction in so many New Testament epistles would be perfectly suitable. "Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit" (Gal_6:18). Ultimately and essentially, grace is found in the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and it is experienced through His work in our hearts, as we humbly seek to know Him more and more. "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Dear Lord of manifold grace, I earnestly yearn to grow in every aspect of Your grace. Lord Jesus, I humbly desire to find increasing intimacy with You. Please work Your grace deeply into my heart  and manifest it fully through my life, in Your matchless name, I pray, Amen.

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« Reply #355 on: December 31, 2006, 10:10:17 PM »

January 1

The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.  (2Co_8:9)

God wants us to know His grace. He wants us to learn about it, and then to experience it at work in our lives. Grace has rightly been described as "unmerited favor." The acrostic, "God's Riches At Christ's Expense," catches more of its majesty. Grace is God freely providing for us (as we trust in the work of His Son) all that we will ever need, all that we will ever yearn for, all that He has commanded us to walk in and become, realities that we could never produce on our own, could never earn, and could never deserve. Grace offers what every human desperately needs, but what God alone can provide.

This grace is found only in a person, the Lord Jesus. It is the "grace of our Lord Jesus Christ." Thus, it is accessible only through an ongoing personal relationship with Him.

Grace was made available to us by Jesus' willingness to take our spiritual bankruptcy upon Himself, that we might be able to partake of His spiritual richness. Before coming to earth below, Jesus enjoyed heavenly riches above ("that though He was rich"). He knew the infinitely rich fellowship of the Father and the Spirit. He received the rich worship of angelic beings. He enjoyed the limitless prerogatives of deity.

Then, for our benefit, Jesus voluntarily became poor ("for your sakes He became poor"). He humbled Himself to walk as a man among sinful humanity. He who was adored above became despised below. He who shined forth in glorious divinity in heaven was clothed in humble humanity on earth. He who created all things was slain by those He created. He who always existed in eternity past died in time. He who was holy took our sin upon Himself.

Through these workings of His grace, all who believed in Him would become spiritually rich ("that you through His poverty might become rich"). Now, we whose "righteousness were as filthy rags" (Isa_64:6) have become "the righteousness of God in Him" (2Co_5:21). We "who once were not a people . . . are now the people of God" (1Pe_2:10). Now, we have been "blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Eph_1:3).

Dear Lord, I thank You and praise You for Your great grace toward me. May I increasingly know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, through a growing relationship with Him. May I become an instrument of Your grace in the lives of others, all for Your glory and honor, in Jesus name, Amen.

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Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
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« Reply #356 on: January 02, 2007, 06:59:26 PM »

January 2

Grace upon Grace in Our Lives

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for (upon) grace.  (Joh_1:14, Joh_1:16)

One of the titles of God, the Son, is the Word. When He, Jesus, became a man, He was God's incarnate message, His Word to humanity. As the early disciples watched Jesus living His perfect life of godliness, they were looking at the glorious revelation of God's uniquely begotten (that is, virgin-born) Son. His life was an overflowing demonstration of divine grace and truth.

Jesus showed us the kind of life that God's grace could be developing in us a life of truth, a life of godly reality. Jesus came as the One to offer that fullness of grace to all who would trust in Him.

Now, for those who are depending upon Him day by day, life is explained and developed "grace upon grace." God's grace received establishes first a layer of forgiveness and spiritual new birth. Then, layers of growth, transformation, fruitfulness, victory, maturing, service, etc., are added as His grace is appropriated by faith. Yes, the Christian life is to be "grace upon grace" upon grace, upon grace, upon grace until we stand face to face someday with our Lord of grace!

Wherever we are in our spiritual pilgrimage, our progress has come from receiving by faith from His fullness of grace. Whatever remains to be accomplished must transpire in the same manner, receiving more fully of His fullness. Oh, what fullness is yet available to us in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Lord Jesus, thank You for coming to dwell among humanity. We worship you for the fullness of grace available in You. We appreciate so much the layers of Your grace that You have built into our lives. We reach out to You with expectation for the grace that is yet needed for the days ahead. This we ask in Your holy name, Amen

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« Reply #357 on: January 02, 2007, 07:21:59 PM »

January 3

The Dimensions of His Grace

In Him we have our redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace . . . that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus . . . To me, who am less than the least of all saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable (unfathomable) riches of Christ.  (Eph_1:7; Eph_2:7; Eph_3:8)

What are the dimensions of the grace of God? How extensive are the resources of His grace? So often we drastically underestimate the measure of God's supply of grace for our lives.

God is rich in grace. When He forgave our sins, He did so "according to the riches of His grace."  Think of the bountiful measure of grace that was bestowed to remove our guilt and shame. God generously poured out His grace in order to wash away our iniquities. Yet, in doing this He did not deplete the treasures of His grace.

In Ephesians 2:7, God speaks of the "exceeding riches of His grace." The Lord's grace is far beyond any richness that we have ever yet comprehended or experienced. God's storehouse of grace is so abundantly full that He will be pouring it out upon us for the "ages to come." Yes, it will take eternity for the Lord to fully demonstrate His grace toward us. This everlasting demonstration of His grace will involve showing His kindness toward all of us who are in Christ Jesus. Think of it the dimensions of God's grace are sufficient for Him to make us the objects of His kindness for ever and ever!

One could liken the riches of God's grace to an infinitely vast ocean. Think of the immensity of the oceans of the world. Although they are magnificent in scope, every ocean can be searched out or fathomed. Every ocean has a bottom that can be reached. Though vast, they are finite.

Paul testified that the Lord gave him grace to go forth and proclaim the "unsearchable (unfathomable) riches of Christ." There is more grace available in the heart of God for us than there is water in all of the oceans of the world! Truly, no matter how much grace we have already discovered in Christ, we have only begun to search out the riches of His grace toward us.

Heavenly Father, we are awe struck at the vast dimensions of Your grace. Forgive us for underestimating that grace so often. Enlighten the eyes of our hearts that we might know the richness of Your grace. May the immeasurable ocean of Your grace be our daily supply for life in Christ, in His name we pray, Amen.

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« Reply #358 on: January 04, 2007, 05:41:15 AM »

January 4

Under Grace, Not Law


For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under law but under grace.  (Rom_6:14)

Sin dominates every one's life, unless they are learning of God's remedy. Grace is our only hope that sin will no longer dominate our lives. Furthermore, grace is a sufficient hope that sin need not exercise a dominating influence over us.

Before we came to faith in Jesus Christ, we were fully under the dominion of sin. We were condemned before God because of our sin. Others may not have been aware of our truly sinful condition. Still, we were so controlled by sin that God called us "slaves of sin" (Rom_6:6).

The law brought us no hope of escape. In fact, the law condemned us (Rom_3:19). We could never have found freedom from sin's condemnation by attempting to perform better under the law of God, for "by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified" (Gal_2:16).

On the other hand, the grace of God is our fully effective hope. There is forgiveness of sins by His grace (Eph_1:7). There is justification through faith by the grace of God (Gal_2:16). There is growth in spiritual life by the grace of God (2Pe_3:18). None of these heavenly blessings become ours from attempting by our ability to live up to the law standards of Almighty God.

Our relationship with the Lord is based upon grace, not upon law. We began a walk with the Lord by His grace at work for us. We continue to walk with Him by His grace at work in our lives.

O Lord, my God, I rejoice greatly that I am under Your grace and not under Your law. Your holy law rightly condemned me for my trespasses against You. I thank You for forgiving my sins by Your glorious grace. I praise You for justifying me, declaring me not guilty in Your sight, by Your rich grace. I extol You for continuing to touch and shape my life by Your inexhaustible grace, in the name of Christ Jesus, my Lord. Amen

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« Reply #359 on: January 05, 2007, 12:14:07 PM »

January 5

The Message of the Law: Be Holy

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: 'You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and keep My Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God. Do not turn to idols, nor make for yourselves molded gods: I am the LORD your God'."  (Lev_19:1-4)

When any aspects of God's law is being considered, what is its overall message? How could a person summarize the law of God? In this statement to Moses, the Lord mentions a few of the commandments from His holy law. He speaks of proper treatment of parents, observance of the Sabbath day, and refraining from idolatry. Then, He provides a two word summary of all His law: "be holy."

In this call to holiness, the Lord holds forth Himself as the reason for, and standard of, living holy lives. "You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy." God is holy, so He wants holiness to be a distinctive trait of His people.

What is the holiness of God? It has to do with His character. Holiness speaks of that which is innate with God, as well as contrasting that which is absolutely foreign to His being. In the Lord God there is perfect righteousness. On the other hand, in Him there dwells no unrighteousness of any type. In our God there abides complete moral purity. Contrariwise, in Him there is not even a trace of moral evil. In fact, everything about Him is spiritually pure and morally unpolluted.

This holy character of the Lord God is the standard of life that the law holds forth for humanity. God's chosen nation, Israel, was given this standard in writing. All others have this standard written on the conscience (Rom_2:15). Every one who is born into this world is measured by God's law, which demands that the holy character of God be seen in their life before God, including how they relate to God and to one another. The message of the law is: "be holy."

O Holy Father, I worship You for Your perfect holiness. None is holy, O Lord, besides You. You are pure and righteous in all of Your being and all of Your doing. Father, I am aware of, and convicted of, my lack of innate holiness. I confess that I could never produce a life that would measure up to Your holy standards. I thank You for the gracious forgiveness that is available in Your Son, Jesus Christ. I take comfort in, and find hope in, the righteousness that Your Son can bring into the lives of those who trust in Him day by day, in His name. 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
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