Month: September 2019

Dead in Trespass… Alive in Christ

Ephesians 2:1-5
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

Written by: James Rogers 

No one looks more ridiculous than a Christian who looks down on his neighbor, friend, or family member. This is especially true when we judge people who have not accepted our “Christian worldview.” It all comes down to feeling superior to another person, which is vanity. I know this all too well because I have judged other people; I’ve beaten my chest and said: “Well, at least I don’t do what he did.” How dare I judge someone else when I am so prone to moral failure? This is hypocrisy.

The way to overcome this form of arrogance is to have an accurate opinion of one’s self. I need to be reminded of my lowly position in the Kingdom of God. No matter how good I am (currently), the Bible teaches that I was once dead in my transgressions, and bigger than that, I had very little to do with my salvation. I am not good because of my goodness. If I am better than I once was, it is only by the power of God who has saved me from myself.

Day1Thought of the day: We must leave the throne of our micro-kingdoms. We are not the judge. We are not the prosecutor. God has given freely to us so that we can turn and freely give grace to others. Now this doesn’t mean that we ignore reality and it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to help people when they’re struggling, but if arrogance and pride enter the equation, we’re out of line and worthy of ridicule.

Prayer: Jesus, help me maintain an accurate view of myself as a child of God saved by grace. Help me not to judge my neighbor. Help me to see others like you see us and in that use me to accomplish Your purposes in this crazy world. May You receive all the glory. Amen!

Grace Changes People

Luke 19:1-6
And He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.

Written by: Russ Ripley

In our scripture for today, we find a story about a man who wanted to see Jesus. This isn’t just any man, but a tax collector. Not just any tax collector but a “chief” tax collector, which means he had many tax collectors working for him and had become rich. These were Jewish people the Roman government had put in charge of collecting taxes from their fellow countrymen. They were hated by just about everyone. When Jesus went into Zacchaeus’ house, the people grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”

What happens when God’s grace impacts someone like Zacchaeus? Verses 8-10 say, “And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.’” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Jesus did not condemn Zacchaeus. Jesus came to seek and save him. Zacchaeus was radically changed and then he immediately extended grace to others.

Jesus does the same for us. He seeks and saves the lost—which is every one of us. He extends His grace to all of us. No matter who we are, what we’ve done, or what’s been done to us.

9.20Thought of the day: Have you received the Grace of God? Jesus still seeks and saves the lost today. If you have received God’s grace, are you extending that grace to others? “They shall know you by your love one for another.” Let’s extend God’s grace to others today.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your amazing grace. Help me to see others the way you see them. Help me to invite others to experience Your grace and mercy, no matter who they are. Amen.


The Grace Equation

Romans 12:3
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Written by: Matt Swartz

I am fluent in seeing my side of every story. This isn’t a surprise, right? That is how we all operate. We all wrestle with the purposeful decision to live life in a way where we see other peoples’ perspectives. That is why I am so personally challenged by today’s verse.

Romans 12:3 turns everything upside down relationally by saying the framework for human relationships must be based on God’s grace and love for us. Because of God’s grace, I make intentional decisions to make grace my starting point each day with how I choose to interact with others. When we allow grace to enter the equation of all of our human relationships, it has the potential to completely change the outcome of the relational equation.

Notice the key word in that last sentence: potential. We cannot fall into the trap of believing that just because we operate with grace in all of our relationships that grace will be reciprocated. We show grace because it has been demonstrated to us. We do not show grace with an expectation it will be shown back to us. Living graciously with others requires sacrifice. It must become a decision we make over and over again, multiple times a day.

9.19Thought of the day: Who in your life do you need to make more purposeful decisions to show grace? Take a moment and reflect on God’s grace in your life. His grace creates the platform of humility and sober judgement that Romans 12:3 says we can use to live life graciously.

Prayer: Jesus, please help me make intentional decisions to live graciously towards others in light of how much grace You have shown me. Amen.

Wonderful Grace of Jesus

John 1:15-18
(John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

Written by: Alfred Burgess

When my boys were very young, I found myself telling them often, “I will give you grace this time.” It was something I admittedly held over their heads. I wasn’t extending grace, but rather postponing a punishment that would come later in the day. As I have grown as a dad and find myself on the receiving end of grace, I am in a position to offer these thoughts.

Grace is a misused word that we get wrong more often than we get right. Grace in its most basic definition is God’s forgiveness to us. We deserve death, but instead we receive favor. When I think about God’s favor, I go back to my own children. I would do anything to give them my favor in the face of what they often do not deserve. I am so humbled that God’s favor—His grace—on me is 1,000 times greater. The Bible repeatedly calls grace “a gift.” I love gifts that are unexpected and cause a feeling of contentment and joy when received.

9.18So, what is the proper way to use the word “grace” in our vocabulary? We talk daily about extending grace to people. We offer grace in certain situations. Our grace is given when we feel wronged.

Pulling back and giving the reverence this word demands would not be a negative. I would love to see us dig in and allow God’s word to educate and teach us. Grace is amazing and it certainly is the only thing that can redeem our wretched souls.

Think of the words to the song “Wonderful Grace of Jesus.”

Wonderful grace of Jesus, Greater than all my sin. How shall my tongue describe it, where shall its praise begin? Taking away my burden. Setting my spirit free. For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

A Real Good Thing

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Written by: Gina Rock

Forgive the dated reference here, but there was a song in the mid 90s called “Real Good Thing” by a popular Christian band, Newsboys. To this day, the chorus and melody have stuck in my head because it parallels the idea of mercy and grace in the simplest ways.

“When we don’t get what we deserve, that’s a real good thing
When we get what we don’t deserve, that’s a real good thing.”

God deals with us so kindly, offering grace and mercy in abundance! We don’t get what we deserve (punishment for our sins) and we do get what we don’t deserve (eternity with him).

9.17Thought of the day: Do you abundantly offer grace and mercy to the people in your life? As you seek to honor God in your relationships, remember how God kindly deals with your shortcomings. Let that challenge you to do likewise.

Prayer: God, You are gracious and merciful. Thank You for loving me well! Help me to love others in a way that reflects and honors You. Amen.