Read John 1:14-18
John 1:14-18 NIV The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'" From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
• Jesus came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Ponder His grace and truth.
• In the fullness of grace, we have received one blessing after another. Enjoy your blessings.
• The law came through Moses. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Experience the joy of grace.
• Ask God to help you to be “strong in grace.”
• Ask God to reveal to you what you need to do to be “full of grace and truth.”
• Tell God your joys, fears, and needs. Praise him in everything.
• Pray for knowledge of God’s will for you today and the power to carry that out.
• Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.
Morning Bible Study
When my grandparents named my mama Grace, they were naming her after their most precious possession. They went to a church that preached grace and when the preacher used the wondrous word, her friends would look at her and giggle. The word grace has many uses.
• We say “grace” or a blessing before a meal.
• If someone has “grace,” we are saying she has poise or charm.
• Grace is what we receive from Jesus Christ our Savior.
According to Dictionary.com, God’s grace is a “divine love and protection that is given freely on His people.” The dictionary also says it is the “state of being protected or sanctified by the favor of God” and “an excellence or power granted by God.” (www.dictionary.com)
The Hebrew word for grace is checed. It means loving-kindness, steadfast love, grace, mercy, faithfulness, goodness, and devotion. The Greek word is charis and can mean cheerful, acceptable, benefit, favor, gift, joy, or pleasure. It can mean the divine influence upon the heart. The corresponding verb is charitoo and it means to endue with divine favor or grace. (from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (c)1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)
Read 1 John 4:16
1 John 4:16 NIV
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
• What is the result of living in love?
Read Ephesians 6:24.
Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.
Grace is a benefit of loving God in return. Certainly, God loves everyone. In fact, the Bible says His love is beyond our ability to understand it. He offers grace to everyone, through His son, Jesus Christ but not everyone accepts this grace.
Let’s talk a minute about the group that does choose to accept God’s grace through Jesus Christ. They have received God’s grace of eternal life. God’s favor is theirs. Acceptance, joy, and pleasure are their birthright. Many are living “in grace.” The joy of Christ is in their eyes. They bask in the knowledge that through Jesus, they are “perfect” in God’s eyes. Poor self-esteem vanishes and confidence replaces it. They grow more like Christ every day. They don’t take world or personal events, even tragic ones, too seriously because they have a heavenly perspective. They are “strong in grace.”
Sadly, another and possibly larger group of Christians may benefit from God’s promise of eternal salvation but are suffering terribly. I’ve traveled through all fifty states of American, talking to people about God, and I’ve met many such Christians. Why is it that they are so miserable and have been unable to embrace the gift of God’s grace?
For some the simplicity of grace is beyond comprehension. They need to continually strive to be worthy of God’s love but have no self-confidence. They suffer from poor self-esteem.
Others may be bringing judgment on themselves by judging others. There are plenty of modern “Pharisees” around who seem to want to keep track of how they and others “follow the rules.” Their lists of rules grow longer and longer. Not only are they not “strong in grace,” they drive others away from grace.
Life can be overwhelming. When circumstances repeatedly go contrary to our desires, it is easy to give up and become hopeless. Trying again seems pointless. When depression takes over, we can become paralyzed and unable to see God. Discouragement is a demon sent to steal the joy of grace.
Some have deliberately chosen to live like the world instead of like Christ. They rationalize that the Bible’s instructions are not relevant to our culture. They do what makes them feel good, regardless of the consequences. When caught, they constantly vacillate between self-justification (I am not as bad as others are around me) and guilt (There is no hope).
Christians may be saved and on their way to heaven but be “weak in grace.” God created us and knows our nature. Knowing our tendency to be “weak in grace,” God encourages us to be “strong in grace.” Read 1 Timothy 2:1.
2 Tim 2:1 NIV
You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
• Where does grace come from?
Our God is a God of grace. He called us to His eternal glory in Christ. People of God and people without God all face difficult life circumstances. The Bible tells story after story of human suffering. If we let Him, God promises that He will restore us and make us strong, firm, and steadfast. Read 1 Peter 5:10.
1 Peter 5:10 NIV
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
What is the promise to those suffering?
“But wait,” you say. “It’s not enough to be ‘strong in grace.’ I want God to change my circumstances.” Read your Bible. God may or may not remove the problems. We see examples of both in the Bible. The Biblical figure Paul had some kind of “thorn in the flesh.” We don’t know what it was but we do know he wanted God to fix the problem. He asked God three times to remove it. God told him no. Read 2 Corinthians 2:7-9.
2 Corinthians 12:7-9 NIV
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
• What did God say to him?
Like so many things in our Christian walk, being strong in grace is a choice. It’s dangerous to admit our sins and proceed to be “weak in grace.” Read Matthew 12:43-45.
"When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation."
• What is the condition of the man if he does not fill himself spiritually after confession?
When we go through the process of breaking the stronghold of sin, demons leave us. Our house is now empty but vulnerable. When a demon leaves, his restless spirit seeks somewhere to rest. How many times have we seen a struggling person have a spiritual experience, find God, only to fall into a deeper pit than where he or she started? The answer to this lies in filling the empty spaces with the grace of God.
So, be “strong in grace.” Read Luke 2:40.
Luke 2:40 NIV
And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. NIV
Jesus was “strong and filled with wisdom.” The “grace” of God was upon him. We are to be like Jesus. Pray to be strong and filled with wisdom. May the “grace” of God to be upon you.
A mother raccoon took up residence in our attic. She chewed her way through a loose area where 2 parts of the roof came together and found the Ritz Carlton of raccoon land. She had a cozy dry home with a beautiful view of the Intracoastal Waterway. How much better could it get for a raccoon?
My husband and I like raccoons but didn’t want to live with them. As we tried to sleep at night, we could hear scurries and chewing as she frolicked her way through our attic. Occasionally, after a busy raccoon night, insulation would fall through a ceiling vent and on to our grand piano. Mrs. Raccoon had to leave but we didn’t want to do any permanent harm to the little bandit. We set off a “bug bomb” in the attic to encourage her outside and it worked. We watched as she scampered down the side of our house. “That was that,” we thought proudly.
That night, I heard a noise. Bob went in the attic to investigate and discovered this mother raccoon back with two very cute and curious babies. “Well hi,” I heard Bob saying. “Where did you come from?” He came down the ladder charmed by how they had followed him around, peaking around corners.
As we tried to sleep that night, our night visitors lost their charm and we sought other solutions. Many offered advice about their demise.
• “Take a gun upstairs and shoot them.” I pictured holes in my attic.
• “Look on the web. There are suggestions for how to kill them.” I reminded them there were also tips for making bombs on the net.
Bob, being the creative engineer type, decided to nail metal screen around the opening. Before putting up the screen, he searched in the attic for our friendly raccoons and thought them gone fishing for the day. He carefully put up the screen and waited. At about 8:00 that night, we heard our little friends desperately trying to get out of the screen. Unfortunately, we had locked them inside instead of outside.
Bob climbed on the steep roof to take down the screen. I heard him saying, “You have to back up. I want to let you out but I can’t until you move.” I was a little worried about my husband’s growing habit of talking to raccoons. They must have understood because they backed up and he took the screen down. I’ve never seen a man move as quickly as Bob did while anticipating those raccoon charging the opening to get out. When the raccoons left, Bob nailed the screen back.
The next morning, we found the screen pulled apart and our guests happily back. The next time we went in the attic, we found they had invited friends. We had an attic full of raccoons and nutrias. Apparently these little entrepreneurs were running a boarding house.
In desperation, we called professional roofers. We felt a little better when the raccoons managed to get through several of their solutions. After many tries, our unwanted borders were finally evicted but there is ugly brown board nailed to my black roof. Occasionally these little critters come knocking at our door but so far, there has been no room at the inn.
For the last several days, you and I have been working our sins through a process. If you followed directions:
• You confessed them to God and to another person.
• You asked God for forgiveness.
• You made restitution.
Now it’s time, to nail up the opening so they won’t return with their friends.
• Make a decision to “be strong in grace,” one day at time.
• Rebuke the demon of guilt. Never allow your past to take over your future.
• Reject the temptation to return to the sin. In fact, flee from even the hint of any activities that remind you of the sin.
• Fill your spiritual house with grace by spending time daily in meditation, prayer, and Bible Study.
• Go to church regularly and fellowship with other Christians.
• Continually be on the alert.
Like my little pets, if you allow it, those sins are just waiting to return and would love to come with new friends. According to Matthew 23:43-35 (above), they will return with at least 7 friends. Close the opening permanently. Be strong in grace!