Tag Archives: loved

Unmerited Grace

 

 

Ephesians 2:1-10
The result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin (Romans 5:16).

Read Hebrews 4:16 and note what it says we can do and experience because of our “gracious God.”

How has your understanding of grace changed over time? Why can a better understanding of God’s grace lead us to do even more good works?

Early in my walk with the Lord, a friend told me that as I came to understand more fully how undeserving I was of Jesus’ grace, I’d embrace it all the more. Many years later, I still think about her exhortation when—on occasion—I move from acknowledging my sins and desperate need of a Savior to wondering if perhaps I’m entitled to special treatment based on my “good works.”

When pride sets in and our thinking grows faulty, Scripture reminds us:

• “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).

• “God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

• ”God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The apostle Paul described a “thorn in his flesh” that helped him deeply experience the sufficiency of God’s grace. He wrote, “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).

As we participate in the work of the Lord, we aren’t earning our way to heaven but, rather, are reflecting His saving grace and work in our lives by doing “the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10).

From: My Utmost for His Highest

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Neighborly Love

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

You shall love the Lord your God . . . and your neighbor as yourself. —Luke 10:27

It would have been simpler just to buy a new hair dryer. But determined to save a buck, I decided to fix it myself. In order to loosen the screw that was buried deep in the handle, I took out the ultimate handyman’s helper—my pocket knife. As I put pressure on the knife to turn the screw, the blade folded back—on my finger.

I learned a lesson that day: I love myself. And I am urgent about meeting my needs. There was no thought of, “Well, I don’t really have time to stop the bleeding now. I’ll get to it later.” Also, there was a tenderness about how the need was met. I instructed my first-aid team (my wife and kids) to wash my finger gently and then to put the bandage on in a way that would avoid having the hairs on my finger pulled up when it was removed. My thoughts, words, and actions were driven by my love for myself.

To love “your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27) requires the same urgent kind of love. It’s a love that notices the need of another person and won’t rest until it’s been met. It’s a gentle, tender love that thinks and acts carefully. It’s the sacrificial and compassionate love that a nameless Samaritan had for a fallen traveler. It’s the kind of love God wants to share with your neighbors through you.

Lord, help me see the heartfelt needs
Of those within my care,
And grant that through my words and deeds
Your love with them I’ll share. —D. De Haan

You cannot touch your neighbor’s heart with anything less than your own.

From: Get more Strength

 

Ephesians 2:1-10
The result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin (Romans 5:16).

Read Hebrews 4:16 and note what it says we can do and experience because of our “gracious God.”

How has your understanding of grace changed over time? Why can a better understanding of God’s grace lead us to do even more good works?

Early in my walk with the Lord, a friend told me that as I came to understand more fully how undeserving I was of Jesus’ grace, I’d embrace it all the more. Many years later, I still think about her exhortation when—on occasion—I move from acknowledging my sins and desperate need of a Savior to wondering if perhaps I’m entitled to special treatment based on my “good works.”

When pride sets in and our thinking grows faulty, Scripture reminds us:

• “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).

• “God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

• ”God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The apostle Paul described a “thorn in his flesh” that helped him deeply experience the sufficiency of God’s grace. He wrote, “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).

As we participate in the work of the Lord, we aren’t earning our way to heaven but, rather, are reflecting His saving grace and work in our lives by doing “the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10).

From: Our Daily Journey

The Journey Begins

 — by Cindy Hess Kasper
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away. —2 Corinthians 5:17

Eighty-one years ago today a 9-year-old boy prayed to ask Jesus to be the Savior of his life. His mother wrote these words in a memory book: “Clair made a start today.”

Clair—my dad—has now walked with Christ for 8 decades. He marks the day when he made his decision to follow Christ as the beginning of his journey. Growing spiritually is a lifelong process—not a one-time event. So how does a new believer feed his faith and continue to grow? These are some things I observed in my dad’s life over the years.

He reads the Scriptures regularly to increase his understanding of God and made prayer a daily part of his life (1 Chron. 16:11; 1 Thess. 5:17). Bible reading and prayer help us grow closer to God and withstand temptation (Ps. 119:11; Matt. 26:41; Eph. 6:11; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Peter 2:2). The Holy Spirit began to develop the “fruit of the Spirit” in him as he surrendered his life in faith and obedience (Gal. 5:22-23). We can display God’s love through our witness and service.

My dad’s spiritual journey continues and so does ours. What a privilege to have a relationship in which we can “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”! (2 Peter 3:18).

I want my heart to be in tune with God,
In every stage of life may it ring true;
I want my thoughts and words to honor Him,
To lift Him up in everything I do. —Hess
Salvation is the miracle of a moment; growth is the labor of a lifetime.
From: Our Daily Bread

Reflecting God’s Love

 

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REFLECTING GOD’S LOVE

From: American Bible Society

Matthew 1:1-17 (Good News Translation)

God’s Word: Guiding Us to Follow Jesus

Introduction

Matthew 1:1-17: Today we begin reading excerpts from the Gospel according to Matthew. Mathew’s Gospel begins with a presentation of the ancestors of Jesus in order to make clear that Jesus is from the family of King David and Abraham.

Today’s Scripture: Matthew 1:17

There were fourteen generations from Abraham to David, and fourteen from David to the exile in Babylon, and fourteen from then to the birth of the Messiah.

Today’s Reading

1 This is the list of the ancestors of Jesus Christ, a descendant of David, who was a descendant of Abraham. 2-6 From Abraham to King David, the following ancestors are listed: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and his brothers; then Perez and Zerah (their mother was Tamar), Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon, Salmon, Boaz (his mother was Rahab), Obed (his mother was Ruth), Jesse, and King David. 6-11 From David to the time when the people of Israel were taken into exile in Babylon, the following ancestors are listed: David, Solomon (his mother was the woman who had been Uriah’s wife), Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Jehoram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah, and Jehoiachin and his brothers. 12-16 From the time after the exile in Babylon to the birth of Jesus, the following ancestors are listed: Jehoiachin, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, Abiud, Eliakim, Azor, Zadok, Achim, Eliud, Eleazar, Matthan, Jacob, and Joseph, who married Mary, the mother of Jesus, who was called the Messiah. 17 So then, there were fourteen generations from Abraham to David, and fourteen from David to the exile in Babylon, and fourteen from then to the birth of the Messiah.

Reflect

You may wish to compare Matthew’s account of Jesus’ ancestry with that of the one recorded by Luke (3:23-38) and note the similarities and differences. Matthew’s account names five women – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba (Solomon’s mother), and Mary. Learn more about these women by reading about them in the Bible (information about the first four women mentioned can be found in the Old Testament; information about Mary is found in Luke 1–2). What does their inclusion in Jesus’ ancestry teach you about God?

Pray

Lord God, in sending Jesus, the Messiah, you demonstrate your love for all people and your regard for people from all walks of life. Teach me to reflect your love to those I encounter today. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Loved To Love

 

Loved To Love

 — by Julie Ackerman Link
Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn
What does the Lord your God require of you, but . . . to walk in all His ways and to love Him. —Deuteronomy 10:12
Bible in a Year:
Jeremiah 24-26; Titus 2

“A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” I saw this quotation, attributed to the Wizard of Oz, on a wall plaque in a gift shop.

The Wizard of Oz may be a good story, but it’s not a reliable source of spiritual information. God said something quite different. According to Him, the greatest commandment is to love—to love Him first and then others (Mark 12:29-31). Scripture says nothing about expecting to be loved in return. In fact, Jesus stated the opposite in His most famous sermon: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven” (Matt. 5:11-12).

When it comes to love, the important thing we need to know is this: All love starts with God (1 John 4:19). As Moses told the Israelites, God delighted in them to love them (Deut. 10:15), and because of that they were to love others, even strangers (v.19). God’s intent is that the people who receive His love will become the conduit of His love to others.

Apart from God—who Himself is love—none of us could truly love or be loved (1 John 4:7-8).

“Love seeketh not her own,” and so
He did not stay as God above,
But chose a manger and a cross
To show that He was Love. —Wilmshurst
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. —1 John 4:8