Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Grace for the Humble (Proverbs 3:34)

Today’s scripture: Proverbs 3:34

Ah humility. Not a word that many of us like.

For some of us, humility speaks of weakness, of being a doormat, of being a pushover. And this is something few of us want to be.

But humility has a different connotation in God’s economy.

When one is humble, he considers others and their needs. Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi that they—and we—should not “be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than [ourselves. We should] care about them as much as [we] care about” ourselves (CEV, Philippians 2:3-4).

And our greatest example of humility is our Lord Himself: “Christ was truly God. But he did not choose to remain equal with God. Instead, he gave up everything and became a slave, when he became one of us. Christ was humble. He obeyed God and even died on a cross” (6-7).

Being humble means to care for others. To serve them. To look out for them.

And when we are humble in this way, God gives us grace.

How can you be humble to another today? How can you show Christ-like humility?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Justified Freely by His Grace (Romans 3:23-24)

Today’s scripture: Romans 3:23-24

It continually amazes me that grace is a free gift … a free gift. Even though, as Paul wrote, “all have sinned” (and that does mean all, by the way), every single person can be “justified freely by His grace.”

Later in his letter to the church in Rome, Paul wrote, “For the wages of sin is death [what we do deserve], but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord [what we do not deserve]” (NASB, 6:23).

That’s grace.

We are “freely justified,” which means we are righteous in God’s eyes. Once we accept forgiveness of sins through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, He no longer sees our sins. Jesus has paid our “wages,” and we are gifted with eternal life with our Lord and Savior.

How amazing is that?  

Friday, May 26, 2017

Encouraging Grace (Acts 11:23)

Today’s scripture: Acts 11:23

You’d think I’d be tired of writing about grace … but you’d be wrong!

I’m continually awed by the thought that our all-powerful, all-loving God loves us so much that He offers grace. Grace for salvation. Grace for daily life.

Today’s verse comes just after Peter spoke about God’s grace to the Gentiles and those in the early church heard of how a “great number believed and turned to the Lord” in Antioch. Barnabas went to Antioch, and he saw the “grace of God.”

Although the Bible doesn’t explicitly say this, I imagine Barnabas was greatly encouraged by the number of new believers. It does say, however, that he “was glad, and encouraged them all with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.”

This is how the church (i.e., the body of Christ) should be today. We should be “glad” when we meet new believers; we should rejoice with new members of the “family.”

And we who have been following the Lord for a while should encourage them in their faith. We should teach and disciple them. We should pray for them and with them.

We should celebrate the grace of God.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Amazing, Abounding Grace (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Today’s scripture: 2 Corinthians 9:8

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found.
Was blind, but now I see.”

I love that old hymn. Perhaps, you do too.

Grace is such an amazing gift … that our God would give us what we don’t deserve … amazing.

And grace continues to abound throughout the life of a Christ-follower. When a person surrenders her life to God and accepts the gift of salvation, she will be used by Him to do “good work.”

Each follower of Christ is given at least one spiritual gift. Teaching or hospitality. Giving or mercy.

I’m blessed with the gifts of encouragement and teaching. I love seeing others grow in faith and learn more about the Lord God Almighty. It brings me such joy.

Because of the weakness of my body, however, I don’t always feel “sufficient” to do what God’s called me to do. But, praise Him, I don’t have to be sufficient … He is sufficient, and, through His abundance grace, I’m able to do those “good works.”

Amazing grace, indeed!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Full of Grace and Truth (John 1:14)

Today’s scripture: John 1:14

It’s a mystery beyond human comprehension. God, who created the universe with a word, chose to come to earth and take human form.

He chose to walk among those He Himself created.

He chose to experience what we do: weariness, pain … betrayal and rejection.

He knew He would … and He did it anyway.

For flawed, fleshly us. For those who accept Him … and for those who don’t.

I don’t understand it. I honestly don’t. If I were Him (and we can all be really happy I’m not!), I would have had a much different plan. Certainly, not one where I’d sacrifice myself for … well, for someone like me.

But that’s grace. That’s how much He loves us. Even knowing who we’d be, our God—“full of grace and truth”—came to earth … for us.

It’s a mystery …

Friday, May 19, 2017

Grace and Glory (Psalm 84:11)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 84:11

Today’s scripture reminded me of a play I was in last year called Grace and Glorie. I played a character called Gloria (aka Glorie), a New York professional reluctantly transplanted in rural West Virginia. She becomes the care-taker of a crotchety 90-year-old hospice patient.

By the end, these two completely different women become friends—even family. The play is about the love that grows between them. It’s about the grace they offer to each other.

In a much bigger way, our Father loves to lavish grace upon His children. He finds joy in our joy.

He sees beyond our barriers, our fears, our pain, and He loves us unconditionally. He provides for our needs. He protects us from danger—or carries us through.

Today’s verse says He withholds “no good thing.” And He doesn’t. We may not get everything we ask for, but we do get good things. And the greatest is grace.

Grace for His glory.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Perfected Grace (1 Peter 5:10)

Today’s scripture: 1 Peter 5:10

Oh that word … “perfect.”

We all know—or we should know—that we are not perfect. Far from it. Only one Person who walked this earth was perfect: Jesus Christ. And He is God, so of course He’s perfect.

So how can we be “perfected”?

We become “perfected” here on earth by becoming more and more like Christ as we grow in Him. God—the “God of all grace”—is working in and through all of us who call ourselves by the name of His Son.

He molds us, refines us, encourages us, and guides us, and as we become more like Christ, we are “perfected.”

While we will never reach perfection this side of heaven, we can be “perfected.” We just need to devote our lives to the “God of all grace.”

Monday, May 15, 2017

Grace for Grace (John 1:16)

Today’s scripture: John 1:16

Before I delve into today’s scripture, I wanted to let you know that I’m adjusting the frequency of these devotionals. I began this devotional blog 11 years ago as a resource for my speaking my ministry. As I transition into a new season and speak less often, I still feel led to write, but not quite as often. So, I’ll be posting on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for the immediate future. Please feel free to review past posts, and I look forward to “meeting” with you three days each week.

Now … onto today’s devotional:

 “… we have all received … grace for grace.”

While I have my “go to” translations of the Bible (usually New American Standard Bible, New King James Version, or New International Version), I often like how some of the paraphrases (like The Message, the Contemporary English Version, or the New Living Translation) render God’s words.

For example, “grace for grace” is:

“undeserved kindness and truth” (CEV)

“unfailing love and faithfulness” (NLT)

These are all gifts by grace.

We are loved by our Savior who gives us kindness and everlasting love, who is faithful, and who blesses us with His truth.

Grace for grace … or, as I would paraphrase, grace upon grace.

Revel in the grace you’re so freely offered … today and every day.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Testify to the Gospel of Grace (Acts 20:24)

Today’s scripture: Acts 20:24

I’ve probably written about this before, but if you had the cure for cancer, wouldn’t you go to everyone who needed this cure? Wouldn’t you share this “good news” everywhere and anywhere?

Grace is the cure for sin. It is the ultimate good news!

So why do we hoard this truth? Why do we keep it to ourselves? Why do we fail to share it with those who need it (which, by the way, is everyone!)?

Grace is … well, amazing! Grace offers salvation and ensures eternity with God. Grace assures us of daily strength and provision. Grace showers us with blessings.

Those of us who have been super-abundantly blessed by grace should be eager to “testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Joyfully, we should share the truth of salvation.

With whom can you “testify to the gospel of the grace of God”? Who needs to hear that “good news”?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Saving Grace (Acts 15:11)

Today’s scripture: Acts 15:11

We are unworthy of grace. We really are.

We are born sinful, and, without grace, we deserve to die in our sins.

But again, grace isn’t about what we deserve. It’s about what our loving God chooses to do in spite of our unworthiness. It’s about how the Creator of all things, Sovereign God, looks upon His created beings and says, “I want to be in relationship with you; I want to be in fellowship with you.”

And even though we really don’t deserve it, that’s exactly what we can have when we ask for forgiveness and surrender our lives to Jesus Christ.

We are saved through grace, and we—the created—are in relationship with God—the Creator.

It’s mind-blowing and awe-inspiring that we are loved that much.

Are you in awe of what the Creator has done for you? Sit in silence for a moment and just meditate on grace. God’s grace for you.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Grace in God's Sight (Exodus 33:12-13)

Today’s scripture: Exodus 33:12-13

We who follow Christ today are so blessed! As we just discussed, grace is unmerited favor, and God loves to shower His children with abundant, amazing grace.

In Moses’ time, “grace” was something to be regularly sought. Covering of sin came through sacrifice … and it was only temporary.

Today, we can be assured of salvation, once and for all! Grace is given to us … once and for all. When God looks at those of us who have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ, He doesn’t see the flaws or foibles; rather, He sees purity. He sees dearly-loved children.

We can be assured that, once we have accepted the gift of salvation through acceptance of and belief in the sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, we will find grace in God’s sight.

Once and for all!

Today, thank God for His grace that is yours. Thank Jesus Christ for His gift of salvation through grace.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Saved By Grace (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Today’s scripture: Ephesians 2:8-9 

So far this year, we’ve looked at verses about peace … and hope … and faith … and now, we’re going to spend a few weeks on another of my favorite words: Grace.

And we’re starting with one of my very favorite verses about grace.

Grace means “unmerited favor.”  It’s not getting what we do deserve.

What do we deserve? Death. Judgment. Eternal separation from God.

We are sinful, flawed, and unworthy. However, because of grace, God sees us as clean, flawless, and worthy.

All because of grace.

There is nothing we can do to be saved. No works. No efforts. No service. No penance.


Well, I take that back. There a few things we can do:

Accept the gift of grace. Surrender to Him. Live to bring glory to the Lord.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Where Are the Faithful? (Luke 18:7-8)

Today’s scripture: Luke 18:7-8

Centuries ago, one of the fathers of our faith asked God if He would spare a city if there were a certain number of faithful. You may know the story. Abraham wanted to save Sodom, so he asked God if He would spare it for 50 faithful. Then for 45. Then for 40 … and finally, for 10.

Well, if you know the story, there weren’t even 10 faithful, and God destroyed the city because of the rampant sin of its citizens.

Fast forward to a question Jesus asked: “… when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

If God decided to destroy a sinful city today (and it could be just about any city in the world), would He find enough faithful to stay His hand?

While we can’t guarantee a number of faithful, we can be counted among those who have faith on earth. We can be the faithful that Jesus will find when He returns.

May those of us who follow Christ be faithful to live God-honoring lives until He returns.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Full of Faith (Acts 6:5)

Today’s scripture: Acts 6:5

It may sound morbid, but have you ever thought about what your gravestone will say? Will it be poignant? Or pithy? Or downright funny? You may have heard about the woman who put “See! I told you I was sick” on hers.

I’d like to see something that speaks of my faith … something like the words used to describe Stephen. Today’s verse deals with a time when a group of men in the early church were chosen to fulfill a specific need.

One of those chosen was Stephen. How was he described? As “a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit …”

A man full of faith …

I pray I would be described similarly … now and when I’m gone from this earth.

How would you like to be described? What can you do to be called a man or woman full of faith?

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Strengthened in Faith (Acts 16:5)

Today’s scripture: Acts 16:5

I read verses like today’s, and I have to ask myself: Is the church of Christ, the formal church, being “strengthened in the faith”? Is it “increas[ing] in number daily”?

Think of your own church. Would you be able to answer “yes” to these questions?

If so, then your church is doing something right … and praise God it is.

But how many churches these days are stagnant? Content with the status quo? Okay with seeing growth—if any—through “church swapping”?

Preachers are giving “feel good” messages rather than digging deeply into God’s word and asking hard questions. Church members come to enjoy social interaction rather than studying the Bible. Outsiders don’t feel welcome because the “cliques” are already established.

Brick and mortar churches can help seekers find truth, and we who make up those churches must be healthy and strong. We must study and meditate on God’s word. We must pray to be the representatives of Jesus to a lost world.

Is it time for a check-up for your church? How healthy and strong is it? Even more, how healthy and strong—spiritually, that is—are you?

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Faith in the Son of God (Galatians 2:20)

Today’s scripture: Galatians 2:20

When a person chooses to surrender her life to Jesus Christ, accepting and believing in His sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection, then she becomes what the Bible says a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). She is brand new. No matter her past. No matter her sin. No matter …

Not only is she a new creation, she is now the temple of Christ. He actually lives in her.

The same is true for you, if you’ve done the same.

Christ lives in you. You live by faith in the Son of God, the One who “love[s you] and gave Himself for [you].”

Let that thought permeate your heart and soul. You are loved so very much that God the Son died for you. For you.

And He lives in you. In you.

Take a moment or two and thank the Lord Jesus Christ for what He did for you … and for being in you.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

No Distinctions in Faith (Acts 15:8-9)

Today’s scripture: Acts 15:8-9

I’ve written this before, but I’m so grateful that the Lord had a plan to save all people. All people. 

God “made no distinction between us and them …”

The “us” here is the people of Israel. The “them” is the rest of us. Even though God chose the Israelites as His special people, He desires that none "should perish” (2 Peter 3:9). When Jesus shed His blood on the cross, He covered the sin of all people, “purifying their hearts by faith.”

When anyone—Jew or Gentile—accepts the gift of grace by believing in and accepting the sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then she is saved. She is redeemed.

She is purified.

No matter your background, not matter your heritage, you can be saved by faith. You can be pure in the Father’s eyes. Have you accepted that gift of grace?

Monday, May 01, 2017

Faith ... Through the Whole World (Romans 1:8)

Today’s scripture: Romans 1:8

Having one’s “faith … spoken of throughout the whole world” is a daunting thought. How can my faith impact the entire world? In the same way a dropped pebble ripples through the entire pond.

As I write these words, I’m sitting on a balcony overlooking a quiet lake. There’s a slight breeze, but the water is mostly calm. Every so often, though, a bird alights, and its landing produces tiny waves that push toward shore.

I may not be able to speak to the whole world, but I pray for missionaries and support them. I serve in my church. I lead a Bible study. And each person I touch touches another … and another.

Who’s to say that this simple devotional isn’t sending ripples … ripples that touch the entire world.

You have the same opportunity. You may serve in a small community, but you touch lives … and they touch lives … and they touch lives … until the whole world has been impacted by your faith. Your faith.