SAVED BY GRACE

Ephesians 1:3-14

In Christian circles, we often hear people talk about grace, but do we understand what it means? Scripture uses this word in reference to God’s goodness and kindness, which is freely extended to those who are utterly undeserving—and that includes all of us.

God’s grace is the means of our salvation through Christ and the basis by which He sees us. By grace, we are …

Declared righteous. All of our guilt and shame have been removed, and Christ’s righteousness is credited to us as our own (2 Corinthians 5:21). Now we can live boldly for Jesus no matter who we once were.

Part of God’s family. A spiritual adoption has taken place so that we might become children of God and call Him Father (Eph. 1:5). Although the world may see us as insignificant, we should remember we’re children of the King.

Made co-heirs with Christ. Our inheritance is guaranteed and kept for us in heaven (1 Peter 1:4). We’ve been set free from the lure of materialism because we’re rich in the only way that matters (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Given new life. When we trust in the Savior, we are born again and receive a fresh start (2 Corinthians 5:17). The seal of this new life is the indwelling presence of God’s Holy Spirit, who transforms us into the image of Christ and guarantees our future resurrection (Eph. 1:13-14).

Freed from the power of sin, Satan, and self. Grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and live righteously in obedience to God (Titus 2:11-12).

From the beginning of salvation to our eternal future in heaven, we are covered by God’s unending grace.

Bible in One Year: John 17-19
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SOURCE: Culled from In Touch Ministries

THE CONSEQUENCES OF IMPATIENCE

Luke 15:11-21
How serious is a lack of patience? We generally write it off as inconsequential. It’s often seen as a weakness rather than a sin—after all, it’s not as bad as adultery, theft, or murder. But have you ever considered what your impatience reveals about your attitude toward God?

When we demonstrate an inability to tolerate delay, we are telling the Lord, “I don’t trust Your timing; mine is better.” Can you see the seriousness of this attitude? Impatience is a display of pride because we are elevating our understanding above that of our all-knowing God.
The prodigal son’s journey toward disaster began with impatience. He wanted his inheritance immediately and was unwilling to wait. After taking matters into his own hands, he faced the following consequences:
He brought sorrow on his family. Likewise, our impatience hurts those we love.
He left the security of home. When we run ahead of God, we often leave behind the voices of reason and wisdom in our life.
He found himself in ruin. God’s blessing accompanies our obedience, so we stand to lose a great deal when we ignore His timing.
He felt unworthy. We don’t experience fellowship with the Lord when impatience keeps us outside of His will.

Although the prodigal son was welcomed home, he could never regain the inheritance he’d lost. We, too, must often live with painful consequences as a result of jumping ahead of God. Let’s remember it’s better to wait patiently until the Lord moves us forward.
Bible in One Year: Acts 10-1

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SOURCE: Culled from In Touch Ministries

GOD REALLY LIKES YOU. NO, REALLY!

“For I have every confidence that nothing — not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, height, depth, nor any created thing — can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

I turned 62 years old this past summer. I thought I would have a harder time telling people my real age, but as it turns out, saying I’m 62 has become very empowering. I often tell people, “The older I get, the more I’ve learned. And the more I’ve learned, the less I know. But what I do know, I really know.”

This is what I’m confident of at age 62: I know God loves me. There! That’s it. That’s about all I really know for sure.

But, oh my goodness, that knowing changes the lens I use to view every situation, problem, blessing and even the unexpected. It changes the trajectory of my days.

I mean, think about it — if we wake up every morning and truly, deeply believe and trust that God simply loves us, how does that change how we feel about who we are? Would we go through our ordinary days with a few less self-imposed “should-haves”? Would that critical voice in our head saying, “You aren’t enough” be just a little quieter? I think it would. I think I might be more patient in traffic too — just bein’ real!

For instance, I’ll be honest and tell you I might not worry as much if I got my swim workout done or not. I might be less judgmental of myself over some misspoken words I said to my husband or one of my kids. I might be less frantic that I didn’t get all my errands done or phone calls made. I might be a kinder, gentler person if I just sit in the knowing. God loves me. God is for me.

Brennan Manning once said that God doesn’t just love you — He likes you. Whoa! That really got my attention. There are people I love, but fewer people I like. So, it makes my heart happy to think God likes me. I can’t stop thinking about it!

Today’s key verse is one of my very favorites. The word NOTHING is a big word!

“For I have every confidence that nothing — not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, height, depth, nor any created thing — can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

Nothing just means nothing. It doesn’t have an “except for …” attached to it. Nothing. Period! No “buts” “ands” or “except-fors.”

I like to argue with God sometimes, and I’ll say, “But God, I’ve put on some weight, and I feel like I’ve let me and You down. Do You still love me?” And, it’s like I hear Romans 8:38 quietly in my spirit:

“Sandi, NOTHING!” “Yeah, but God …”

“NOTHING!”

“God, were You paying attention? I got a divorce. My kids have been hurt by my choices.”

But God quietly comes alongside my spirit and says, “Baby girl, I know pain. I got you. I love you — NOTHING!”
And now, at 62, I think I finally believe Him. And it’s changing me. It’s changing how I move through my days. There is eternity in every single moment because God is in every single moment.

As I return to Romans 8:38-39, I’m learning to say, “I have every confidence that NOTHING … can come between us and the love of God …” That is the first and most important building block of my faith in Christ.

Friend — I want you to know today how much you are loved by the God of the universe. Right now, in this very moment. Right where you sit or stand. With or without your makeup on. You are so deeply and passionately loved.

 

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SOURCE: Culled from Encouragement for Today

FULLY COMMITTED

‘I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.’
Philippians 3:8 NKJV

Nowhere in the Bible does God say He’s going to send us to safe places to do easy things. But He never leaves us to do challenging things on our own. He says He’ll always be with us (have a read of Hebrews 13:5). But in order to do life with God, and to walk in His ways, we need to be fully committed. Faced with the cross, Jesus prayed the ultimate prayer of commitment: ‘Yet not my will, but yours be done’ (Luke 22:42 NIV).

God’s wanting us to be totally committed to Him. Jesus said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it’ (Matthew 16:24-25 NIV). This may seem pretty extreme, but God’s looking for ‘all-in’ faith. He’s looking for followers who are willing to stick with Him, no matter what it costs. He’s looking for people who’ll put Him above everything else in their lives.

Paul was one of those kind of followers. In his letter to the Philippians, he wrote: ‘Those things were important to me, but now I think they are worth nothing because of Christ. Not only those things, but I think that all things are worth nothing compared with the greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…I want to know Christ and the power that raised him from the dead. I want to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death’ (3:7-10 NCV). He even went as far as to say ‘to live is Christ and to die is gain’ (1:21 NIV).
Are you prepared to say the same?

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SOURCE: Culled from Word for You

THE LORD, OUR SHEPHERD

John 10:7-15

In the ancient world, the man who was given charge of the flocks had a challenging job. He had the responsibility of leading the sheep to new pastures and fresh water, defending them from predators, and finding the lost ones when they strayed. But his was a humble job because it was lonely and dangerous. The shepherd lived among the flock and slept across the doorway of the fold to keep the sheep in and the wolves out. This was hard, constant, and thankless work.

Yet Christ sat among His followers and said, “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11; John 10:14). The modern church misses the impact of those words. We have a rustic but rosy view of Jesus as a shepherd. The sovereign God of the universe humbled Himself and got His hands dirty working directly with beings just as errant, willful, and sometimes dumb as sheep.

Remember you read a moment ago that tending the flock required lying across the doorway of the sheep pen? Well, Jesus did exactly that—He became the door for us (John 10:9). He sacrificed His life for the great flock of humanity so that anyone who chooses to believe in Him may enter God’s fold (John 3:16). And once inside, we are provided for, sought when we wander, and protected from enemies.

Jesus sees Himself as mankind’s Shepherd. Thankfully, we are more than just a herd to Him. He knows everything about each one of us—our name, character, and flaws—and loves us despite all of our imperfections. What better way to show love in return than to know His voice and follow wherever it leads us?

Bible in One Year: Acts 5-7

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SOURCE: Culled from In Touch Ministries

BE HIS EXAMPLE

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven. — Matthew 5:16

Whether you realize it or not, you’re an example. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re too weak or inadequate to be one — there are people who look up to you and are watching to see how you live. And God wants you to be His representative to them.

Jesus came into this world as a Servant, humbly giving His life so that we would be reconciled to the Father. And God’s will is that we imitate what He did for us by serving others. We perform loving acts of service that meet the spiritual and practical needs of those around us so that they’ll grow closer to Him.

There are so many people around you in need today — not just physically or financially, but emotionally and spiritually as well. Everyone you meet needs someone to encourage him or her. Will you make time to reach out and show them the awesome, unconditional, sacrificial love of Christ? Remember, God sees everything you do in His name and will bless you for all you do in obedience to Him (Hebrews 6:10).

Jesus, show me where I can serve others with Your love and compassion. Work through me to draw others to Yourself. Amen.

My hope is in Jesus because He is worthy of my service.

See God

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. — Matthew 5:8

Do you want to see more of God’s work in your life and experience His presence in a more profound way? Would you like the capacity to perceive His protection and provision in your work, trials, relationships, and in every aspect of your existence? Jesus tells you the way: pursue purity.

When you purge your life of all the behaviors and attitudes that displease God, you clear your vision of the impediments that usually obscure His work in you. You receive a clearer understanding of how He’s behind every good gift you receive (James 1:17) and how He gives meaning to all your struggles (Romans 8:28). Without sin clouding your thinking and deadening your spiritual senses, you become more aware of how the Father is engineering all circumstances for your ultimate good.

So keep your heart pure by seeking and obeying the Lord. Invite the Holy Spirit to convict you through God’s Word and repent of sin as soon as you’re conscious of its presence. And in all things, do as He says. After all, obedience always brings blessing, and when the reward is seeing God, you’re receiving the ultimate desire of your soul. It’s certainly worthwhile!

Jesus, purify my heart and help me see You in every aspect of my life. Amen.

My hope is in Jesus because in Him is everything I need.

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from Faith Gateway

 

FOUR WAYS GOD ANSWERS YOUR PRAYERS     

”You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (Luke 11:11-13 NLT).

God always answers every single prayer—just not always the way you want—and he does it in one of four ways.

When the request is not right, God says, “No.” Just like parents say “no” to their kids for a hundred good reasons, God doesn’t owe you an explanation every time he says “no” to your request.

When the timing is not right, God says, “Slow.” There’s a big difference between a delay and a denial. “No” and “not yet” are not the same thing, and learning and accepting the difference shows spiritual maturity.

When the request and timing are right, but you’re not right, God says, “Grow.” He wants to do something in your life before he answers your prayer because you’re not yet ready to handle the answer.

When the request is right and the timing’s right and you’re right, then God says, “Go.” God often gives us the green light to our prayers—and it’s a reason to celebrate!

Luke 11:11-13 says, “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (NLT).

God is never going to give you anything that is hurtful or bad for you. After all, if even imperfect parents know how to give good gifts to their kids, won’t God, who is good and perfect, do even more for you? He is ready to answer your prayer—in his own perfect time and way

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SOURCE: Culled from Daily Hope with Rick Warren

HOW TO TRUST GOD’S TIMING IN YOUR PAIN

“‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT).

It is not God’s job to make every moment of your life easy. If he did, you would never grow up! You’d be immature, spoiled, and incredibly self-centered. That is not what God wants for you.

So when you’re in pain and you pray and don’t see the answers, should you give up? No. Your job is to keep praying and keep trusting God with the answer, because you know that everything he does and everything he allows in your life he will use for good. You accept a “No,” a “Slow,” a “Grow,” or a “Go,” because you know that God is a good Father, even when you’re in pain.

If a doctor does surgery on you and cuts you open, that’s going to cause some pain. But if that surgery saves your life, would you say that’s a bad doctor? No, because she just saved your life!

When God doesn’t immediately end your pain, he is saying to you in that moment, “My grace is sufficient for you, and you can handle a little pain and even a lot of pain in your life, because I am with you and I am going to use this for your good.”

I’ve had a lot of pain in my life. In fact, almost everything I’ve learned in life, I’ve learned through pain. I’ve learned nothing from pleasure. I’ve learned very little from success. But I’ve learned boatloads through pain. God is more interested in making me a man of God than he is in making me comfortable. And God is more interested in making you a man or woman of God than he is in making you comfortable. You will be comfortable for all of eternity in heaven, but right now, you’re in the grow-up stage, so you’re not going to get everything you ask for.

In Scripture, we read, “‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts’” (NLT).

While you’re praying at one level, God is thinking about your life at a much higher level and from a much bigger perspective. He wants good for your life even more than you do.

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SOURCE: Culled from Daily Hope with Rick Warren

YOU HAVE TO KNOW GOD TO KNOW HOW TO TALK TO HIM

”For the Lord is always good. He is always loving and kind, and his faithfulness goes on and on to each succeeding generation” (Psalm 100:5 TLB).

Don’t you hate it when people call you on the phone and don’t identify themselves? They just jump right in as soon as you answer, assuming you know who it is. When you don’t know if it’s the pope or the pizza guy on the other end, it affects your conversation a lot. You don’t know what tone to use. You’re a little more guarded.

Even when you’re talking with someone in person, if you don’t know much about that person, you tend to be more formal. I can always tell when people I run into around town are a part of Saddleback Church because they’ll say, “Hey, Pastor Rick, how’s it going?” But when someone says, “Hello, Reverend Warren,” it’s clear they know who I am but not that much about me.

Proximity and relationship determine how you talk to somebody. What you know about somebody determines your conversation with that person. The same is true with God. Your understanding of what God is really like shapes everything else in your life, including your prayer life.

A lot of people have misconceptions about God. Some people think he’s a grumpy god, who’s cranky and upset all the time, and they think they can never please him. Some people picture the “crouching tiger” god, who is ready to pounce on them when they make the wrong move. Some people have the flaky father god, who’s moody and changes his mind continually about them.

Some people think of God as the cosmic cop, whose goal is just to make sure you keep the rules, or the dictator god, who’s never satisfied and always demanding more and more and more. And some people have what I call the Play-Doh god and just make him into any form they want.

Ever heard somebody say, “I like to think of God as . . .”? Well, I’m sorry, but it doesn’t really matter what you think God is like. It matters what the Bible says He is!

  1. Tozer wrote, “What comes to your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you, because it affects everything else in your life.”

It’s important that you know the real God. If you have a misconception about him, then prayer is going to be a duty and drudgery. God doesn’t want you to pray out of guilt! He wants you to talk to him because you love him. And you will love him more as you get to know him better through his Word

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SOURCE: Culled from Daily Hope with Rick Warren.

T-R-U-S-T 

What does trust really mean?  Let me help you understand by using the word T-R-U-S-T as an acronym.

“T” stands for trust…which means that if you are going to trust Him, you have to take Him at His word.  Even if it seems like it is not true, you take Him at His word.  If we will take Him at His word, He will guide us through the course of life and bring us across the finish line safely.

“R” stands for rest.  The Bible tells us to rest in the Lord.  1 Peter 5:7 says, Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.  Do not worry.  Worry is like a rocking chair.  It gives you something to do, but you don’t get anywhere.

“U” stands for understanding.  Proverbs 3:5 says, Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  Sometimes things just won’t make sense to your understanding.

“S” stands for speech.

The final “T” stands for thanksgiving.  We offer thanks to God in advance.  Philippians 4:6 says, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  When we offer thanks to God, it is an expression of our faith.

That’s T-R-U-S-T!

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from Answers for each day.