Today’s reading is 1 John 3.
Whenever someone starts explaining that we are saved by the grace of God through our Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous and not through our own good works, someone else begins to fear that we are giving permission to pursue sin. Not at all. In fact, John’s first letter is a great demonstration of that. We read yesterday that if we sin, we have an Advocate with the Father in Jesus Christ. We don’t have to fear that if we sin, we are lost. However, in today’s reading, John explains that if we take that as permission to sin and pursue sin and continue in the ongoing practice of sin, we are not the elect, saved of God, but are children of the devil. The grace and advocacy of Jesus is the power and strength to pursue righteousness despite our failures, it is not the permission to pursue sin despite God’s will. God’s grace offers nothing to those looking to get away with sin. It offers everything to those longing to overcome it. What are you longing for today?
Tomorrow’s reading is 1 John 4.
Continue reading “Grace is NOT Permission to Sin”
Today’s reading is John 7.
Why does the issue of authority matter? Is it because we have to prove we are better at keeping rules? Is it because if we don’t cross all the Ts and dot all the Is we’ll go to hell? Is it because we have to earn our way into heaven by following the pattern? No. None of these things is the reason. The reason authority matters is because God’s glory matters. When I act on my own authority, I’m seeking my own glory. When I’m seeking God’s glory, I act on His authority. It’s just that simple. Whose glory are you seeking? How can you tell?
Tomorrow’s reading is John 8.
Continue reading “God’s Glory Matters; God’s Authority Matters”
Today’s reading is Hebrews 10.
Because Jesus’s one sacrifice for sin actually works, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. Praise the Lord! What comfort. I don’t “go to church” as a sacrifice to get my sins forgiven. I don’t pray, read my Bible, give up some sin, teach people the gospel, or any other activity as a sacrifice to get my sins forgiven. I don’t have to chase forgiveness by my sacrifices. Rather, because Jesus’s sacrifice works, I live in His forgiveness and act based upon it. But, that means there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. What caution. If I decide to ditch the sacrifice of Jesus and live by the pleasures of my eyes and flesh and by my pride of life, pursuing sin impenitently, flippantly, carelessly, rebelliously, there is nothing I can do to make up for that. There is nothing else coming down the pike to take care of that. Jesus’s sacrifice is the one that works, and it is the only one that is coming. God has no plan B. My choices are either to ignore the one sacrifice that works and lose all hope, or take comfort in the one sacrifice that works by surrendering to it and living my life based upon it. Which option will you choose today?
Tomorrow’s reading is Hebrews 11. Continue reading “Comfort and Caution”
Today’s reading is Hebrews 3.
We often get into arguments about salvation, wanting to know which matters more: belief or obedience. Today’s reading gives some insight. But it answers a different question. Which matters more: disbelief or disobedience? The answer is…both. God told those who were disobedient that they wouldn’t enter His rest. But they were disobedient because they disbelieved. In other words, you can’t really separate the two. Disobedience stems from and follows on the heals of disbelief. If you have one, you automatically have the other. I can tell someone doesn’t believe because they refuse to obey. This answers our other question. People obey when they believe. They disobey when they don’t. If they don’t believe, they won’t obey. If they believe, they won’t disobey. The point is, biblically, you really can’t separate faith and obedience. They go together. They are heads and tails of the same coin. And so, the author of Hebrews tells us we need to believe and obey Jesus better than the Israelites did Moses, because Jesus is better. Believe Him, obey Him, and enter His rest.
Tomorrow’s reading is Hebrews 4.
Continue reading “Disbelieve and Disobey”
Today’s reading is Matthew 20.
What boss acts like this? It’s utterly crazy. It’s scandalous. And we all know it when we stop to think about it. If we owned the vineyards and fields next to the master of the house in Matthew 20, we would be ticked. Not only that, we’d think he was a fool. Pay the guys who only worked the last hour of the day for a full day’s work? Great! Now tomorrow, no one will show up for work until the 11th hour. And then, they will actually expect to get a full day’s pay. I can hear the vineyard owners’ coalition meeting now: “What was that guy thinking?” “Doesn’t he know when you give that kind of grace to people they take it for granted and then take advantage of it?” “These workers will use it as license to lay about and be lazy.” “He’s shooting himself and us in the foot.” That is the scandal of grace. Isn’t it what so many of us are afraid of when we hear God’s grace proclaimed? Let’s face it. Are there workers who will use the master’s generosity and grace as a license to laze about? Of course. But that didn’t stop the Master from bestowing grace and generosity. And it shouldn’t stop us from actually proclaiming God’s grace. Will some use it as a license to sin? Yes. But it is not our job to alter or twist the teaching of grace to try to manipulate the outcomes in others’ lives. It is our job to teach God’s grace, scandalous as it is. It is the hearers’ job to respond properly or no. And, of course, it is our job when people respond improperly to warn them. It is God’s job to dispense the generosity when, where, and to whom He will. Finally, it is also our job to be humbled, amazed, and grateful when His generosity and grace surprises us. I promise you, it will. (After all, when I receive it, I won’t hold it against you if you are surprised. And I hope you won’t hold my surprise and shock against me when you receive it).
Monday’s reading is Matthew 21.
Continue reading “The Scandal of Grace”
Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians 12.
When it comes to spreading the gospel, many of us are waiting around until we are strong enough, smart enough, good enough. Don’t! We are strongest when we are content with our weakness. Don’t misunderstand, if you don’t know what the gospel is or means, don’t try to share it with someone. But the heart of the gospel is that we are not strong enough, therefore we need Jesus. Why then would we wait around until we are strong enough to teach the gospel to teach it? Step out in faith. Step out in reliance upon God. Sure, you’ll make mistakes. Sure, there will be embarrassing moments. But you’ll never be strong enough to convert people, so why wait around for that. Recognize how weak you are and step out onto the gospel battlefield with your faith in the Lord. It is His gospel that is powerful enough to save, not your strengths or smarts.
Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Corinthians 13.
Continue reading “Don’t Wait for Strength”
Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 15.
We are in the Lord. The Lord is saving us. The Lord is giving us victory. Do you know what that means? That means our labor is useful. That means our work matters. For some reason, some people have the idea that being saved by grace means what we do doesn’t matter. Not true. Being saved by grace is the only thing that makes our work matter. Because the Lord is working, my work matters. If He weren’t working, my work wouldn’t matter at all. If I am not working, then the Lord’s work is vain. But as Paul says, God’s grace was not vain toward him because he worked. And as he also said, because the Lord is giving us victory, our work in Him is not in vain. Today, let’s get to work in the Lord. That will not be in vain.
Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Corinthians 16.
Continue reading “Our Labor is Useful”