GOD’S GRACE IS UNMERITED
Galatians 5:4 – You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
What is the grace of God? Simply put, the grace of God is God blessing, healing and delivering you because of Jesus. The grace of God is His unearned, unmerited and undeserved favor toward you simply because of Jesus’ finished work at the cross.
Because God’s grace is based on Jesus’ work and not yours, the only way you fall from this grace is by believing that you can earn, merit and deserve it through your obedience and good works.
For example, you fall from grace when you say, “God has to answer my prayer because I have prayed long enough.” You also fall from grace when you think that because you are serving in church or you have kicked a bad habit, God is pleased with you and He has to bless you.
When you think that it is by your efforts and obedience that you receive God’s blessings, you become like the Pharisees. They believed that their law-keeping justified them and ensured that God would bless them. But the truth is that when you believe like them, “you have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace”. This means that you are cut off from Christ, who is your salvation, Redeemer, healer and provider. Christ has become of no effect to you!
My friend, surely you would want Christ to be of effect to you. People to whom Christ is of effect receive from Him the miracle they need. When He is of effect to them, He is their healer and they get healed. He is their wisdom and they are wise before man. He is their good success and they experience good success in all that they do.
Beloved, for Christ to always be of effect to you and to never nullify the grace of God operating in your life, just remember and believe that it is because of Christ and His finished work—His blood, His stripes, His death, His obedience—that you are justified, healed and blessed!
GOD’S NEW CREATION
And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. – John 12:20-23
Philip and Andrew had just brought word to Jesus that certain Greeks or Gentiles were seeking Him at the feast. He had ministered to other Gentiles, but this is the first time that the Gentiles came specifically to seek Him instead of what He could do. Apparently, this was an added signal to Jesus that His time had come and that He could no longer confine His ministry to only the Jews. Therefore, He made statements about His death and glorification, that would break down the middle wall of partition between the Jew and the Gentile.
There was a physical wall of partition that symbolized this division in the Jerusalem temple. The Gentiles could come into a designated area of the temple known as the court of the Gentiles, but a stone wall, about five feet high, stopped them from going further. A sign standing before the wall stated, “No man of another nation is to enter, and whosoever is caught will have himself to blame for his death!”
Many regulations and rules separated Jews and Gentiles for centuries. Christ’s work on the cross abolished that separation by removing the law and thus removing the barrier between these two groups. Instead of changing the Gentiles into Jews or the Jews into Gentiles, God made a brand new creation.
It’s like crossing a horse and a donkey. The result is not a horse or a donkey, but a brand new animal called a mule.
In the New Testament church there is no such thing as Jew or Gentile, bond or free, for God has created something absolutely new. It’s the “one new man,” the new creation in Christ Jesus, the church, Christ’s body, the fullness of Him, that filleth all in all (Eph. 1:23). Remember who you are “in Him.”
DIFFERENT WAYS TO PRAY (1)
‘…the Spirit pleads for us…in harmony with God’s own will.’ Romans 8:27 NLT
Someone who’s better at prayer than you are is already at work on your behalf. ‘…the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us… [and] pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.’ (Romans 8:26–27 NLT) Notice, the Holy Spirit ‘prays for us’. Sometimes we’ve a hard time being ‘fully present’ in prayer. We all know what it’s like to be with another person when their mind is a million miles away. What’s the answer? Try jotting down what goes on while you’re praying. The two most common hindrances to praying successfully are: (a) your mind gets easily distracted by other thoughts; (b) you get tired. When author John Ortberg shared these two frustrations with a friend, he suggested that John go outside alone and simply invite Jesus to come along with him. Ortberg writes: ‘The next day I went to the ocean, took off my shoes, started to run and invited Jesus to come along. I found the strangest thing. When I thought I was supposed to be talking to Him, I found it effortful and difficult. Now that all I had to do was invite Him, I couldn’t stop thinking about Him. My mind kept reflecting on His being with me. I found myself wanting to point out the pelicans and the waves to Him. People and concerns would pop into my mind, and I would find myself telling Jesus about them. Everything changed.’ So, invite Jesus to come along with you today and share each thing you do with Him.
MAKING WISE FOOD CHOICES …
God created those foods to be eaten with thanks by faithful people who know the truth – 1 Timothy 4:3, NLT
God made food to be a pleasant blessing for sustaining life on this earth. Food can have a powerful affect on people. The right foods at the right times can lift your mood and make you feel more energized and alive, however, the wrong foods can make you feel down and lethargic. They can zap our energy and hinder our drive.
If you want to be your best and perform properly for God, you must fuel your body with the right foods, the foods God created and avoid the junk food that has a negative affect on you. Today, be wise with your food choices.
Remember, you are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Feed yourself the best, feel your best, and live your best all the days of your life!
Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. – John 12:20-28
This is the third time recorded in the gospels that the Father spoke in an audible voice to or about Jesus (First, at Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River and second, at the transfiguration of Jesus).
This verse makes it clear that it was a voice that the Father spoke in; however, there were different reports of the same event. Some people heard a voice and thought it was an angel who spoke. Others thought it was thunder.
This illustrates “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). A carnal man with a hardened heart will always find some natural explanation for the supernatural even if he heard an audible voice from God.
A hard heart keeps us from perceiving spiritual truths and stops us from understanding. When a person doesn’t understand God’s Word, Satan finds no resistance when he comes to steal it away. A hard heart keeps us from remembering. This isn’t to say that facts or scriptures can’t be recalled, it’s the spiritual lessons learned that have been forgotten. Likewise, some people can quote scripture or remember what the sermon was about, but they can’t perceive the spiritual life in it or retain what they did perceive, because of a hardened heart.
Jesus didn’t need to hear this audible voice of God because he had a more sure word of prophecy than the audible voice of God from heaven (2 Pet. 1:18-20). Jesus knew the “voice” of the Old Testament scriptures that spoke of the Christ being glorified and He could also hear the Father’s voice in His heart as He had on so many other occasions. This audible voice didn’t come to reassure Jesus, but it came to those who had ears to hear, so that they might believe.
TURN THE OTHER CHEEK …
‘…If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.’ Matthew 5:39 NLT
There are two ways you can respond to negative criticism. If there’s truth in it, humbly accept it and grow through it. If not, practise what Jesus taught: ‘You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say…If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.’ (Matthew 5:38–39 NLT) Sometimes a person’s criticism may actually have nothing to do with you at all; they simply feel cheated by life. And rather than take control of their heart’s dreams, they go around trying to squelch other people’s dreams in an attempt to drag them down to their own level of despair. And while it’s tempting to want to retaliate and point out their weaknesses and failures, that’s not the example Jesus set for you. Nor is it the high road you are called to take. ‘Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.’ (Romans 12:17–18 NLT) What does it mean to turn the other cheek? It means don’t let your critics get under your skin. Simply listen to them, thank them, and take their criticism with a grain of salt. Save your time and energies for those you trust, those who love you enough to tell you the truth even when it hurts. Someone has said, ‘You owe nothing to a critic!’ Actually, you do. Jesus said, ‘…Pray for those who persecute you!’ (Matthew 5:44 NLT)
The whole body . . . grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. —Ephesians 4:16
A man was boarding a train in Perth, Australia, when he slipped and his leg got caught in the gap between the train carriage and the station platform. Dozens of passengers quickly came to his rescue. They used their sheer might to tilt the train away from the platform, and the trapped man was freed! The train service’s spokesman, David Hynes, said in an interview, “Everyone sort of pitched in. It was people power that saved someone from possibly quite serious injury.”
In Ephesians 4, we read that people power is God’s plan for building up His family. He has given each of us a special gift of His grace (v. 7) for the specific purpose that “the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (v. 16).
Every person has a job to do in God’s family; there are no spectators. In God’s family we weep and laugh together. We bear each other’s burdens. We pray for and encourage one another. We challenge and help each other to turn from sin. Show us, Father, our part in helping Your family today.
Are you a spectator or a participant? What gifts do you have? In what ways can God use you to help others grow closer to Him?
We need each other to get to where God wants us to go.