December 6, Thursday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“The Trap that Nullifies His Grace”

Ephesians 2:4-8

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

I’ve been a Christian for almost 20 years and spent most of those years devoting my time, effort, and resources to the church. I would say I have a pretty good Christian resume—if such thing exists. It wouldn’t be too different from the people of Ephesus to whom Paul was writing to; in fact in Revelation 2, Jesus commends the church of Ephesus for its many accomplishments and good service. So in this context, Paul sternly reminds them of one of the most basic simple truths of the Christian message: grace.

If we’re not careful, it’s easy for us to fall into the trap of basing our faith on doing things. We can easily be tempted to think, “I must be doing well with Christ since I’m doing all these things.” It might even lead us to a place of entitlement and self-righteousness. The scariest part is that all these misconceptions can go unnoticed, because if we spend enough time in the church, we can easily become professional ministers. And so Paul says to remember grace. Grace keeps us in check because it reminds us of who we were before Christ—to which Paul says we were dead in our trespasses. It’s easy to love people at their best, but it’s another thing to love them at their worst. And yet grace says that even at our worst, He made us alive together with Christ and raised us up with Him.

Whether we’ve been a believer for a few hours or a few decades, we’ve all been saved by His amazing grace. This simple truth guards us from a sense of entitlement and self-righteousness, since everything we do and serve is a result of Christ loving us first. Grace turns our duty-based serving into glad submission. Grace points us to the love of Christ so that we may boast only in Him. Spend a few moments reminding yourself of His grace for you. Can you imagine who you would be if he didn’t come to save you? Oh, the person I would be today… Thank you, Lord.

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your grace. Thank You that even at my worst, You chose to love me. I confess that I am so prone to wander from this simple truth. Holy Spirit, allow this truth to speak over my life and reveal the areas I have deceived myself. May I boast in You alone. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 6


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 6:3-8: Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

Questions to Consider

  1. What does it mean for us to have been baptized with Christ in His death and resurrection?
  2. Why does sin still exist in our lives?
  3. How should we then live in light of Christ’s death and resurrection?

Notes

  1. All the benefits and consequences of His death are ours as well. What was true of our old selves in Adam, as sinful people, is now completely gone/dead/nonexistent. Our past and sin no longer rules us. And what is true of Christ is now true of us. We have been given a new nature and identity.
  2. In verse 6, Paul says, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing.” Notice how Paul makes a distinction here between our old self and the body. Though our old self has been crucified, we still have this thing called the body in which we live in. And since old habits die hard, the body is still used to living according to the reign of sin.
  3. Because Satan cannot compromise our identity in Christ, he tries to tempt us in our flesh by appealing to its desires. We must learn to deny our desires of the flesh, and yield fully to His Spirit. See Galatians 5:13-26 for reference.

Evening Reflection

Spend a few moments reflecting on this popular hymn “Amazing Grace” by John Newton. For hundreds of years this song has been sung to give both strength and hope during difficult times, such as the slavery movement. Though Newton himself was a slave trader before he dedicated himself to Christ, the song reminds us that in our weakness, we are made strong in Him, for His grace is sufficient for us. Spend a few moments reflecting and singing this old, yet powerful hymn, and may we find our strength in Him.

“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed.”

The Lord hath promised good to me, His word my hope secures;

He will my shield and portion be As long as life endures.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, the sun forbear to shine;

but God, who called me here below, will be forever mine.

– adapted by John Rees

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