Devotional Thoughts for Today
“Nothing Will Separate You from God’s Grace in Christ Jesus”
“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “On the first day of the first month you shall erect the tabernacle of the tent of meeting. 3 And you shall put in it the ark of the testimony, and you shall screen the ark with the veil.
In Exodus 40:1-3 we read about the holy of holies, which was the very epicenter of God’s presence in the Old Testament era. The passage tells us that the ark of the testimony was covered by a veil. Since the people of Israel were sinful and unclean, they were not allowed to enter the holy of holies. The high priest would enter once a year on the day of atonement, and only after a series of rituals to ensure his cleanliness. He would also put on bells to let the people outside know if he was still alive or dead (Exodus 28:34-35). Bell sounds meant he was still moving. No sounds meant something went wrong and he was no longer alive. There was a real sense of fear when entering God’s presence. The high priest needed to make sure he did all the right things and was in the right state before going into the holy of holies.
To some degree I can relate to this. Ever since I was younger, I had always struggled to feel safe in God’s presence. There has always been this sense that I had to be good enough, at least for a period, before I could freely be with God. I felt as if God would allow bad things to happen to me, that He wouldn’t answer my prayers, or would meet me in a posture of disappointment because of my shortcomings. However, all that changed once I had truly understood the gospel of grace for the first time—that I did not need to be fearful anymore.
Matthew 27:51 says that after Jesus died “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” In other words, due to the substitutionary death of Jesus, the veil was no longer necessary. Jesus’ work on the cross had paid our debts and reconciled us back to the Father. As those who have professed their faith in Christ, there is no need for bells to alert people if we’re still alive in God’s presence. We are assured a place at His table through the work of grace in Christ.
Many of us struggle with fear before the Father. Some of us have not been able to be in God’s presence for a long time because the weight of guilt has been heavy on our hearts. But let us look to Christ and His atoning work! Let us be assured that God looks at us through His Jesus Christ, and for this reason, we can enter His presence freely!
Prayer: Father, I confess that at times I struggle with accepting Your grace. There is a part of me that feels the need to work and prove my goodness before I come to You. Help me to trust in Your grace and Your forgiveness!
Bible Reading for Today: 2 Samuel 21
Lunch Break Study
Read Ephesians 2:1-10: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Questions to Consider
- What was the condition of humanity before the grace of God in verses 1-3?
- How have we been made alive in Christ according to this passage?
- Do you easily accept the grace of God or do you feel the need to work to be in good standing with God?
- We were dead in our sins and trespasses, carrying out the desires of our flesh, and following the prince of the power of the air (another term for the devil). It is interesting that the description does not communicate that before Christ we were simply apathetic or indifferent towards God, but we were actively rebellious.
- It is by the rich mercy of God; specifically verse 8 says, “By grace you have been saved through faith and this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God. Paul puts it in clear terms that we have not been made alive by our own work, but by the work of Christ.” Even the faith to believe has been a gift given from God.
- Personal response.
“You see, the verdict is in. And now I perform on the basis of the verdict. Because [God] loves me and He accepts me, I do not have to do things just to build up my resume. I do not have to do things to make me look good. I can do things for the joy of doing them. I can help people to help people – not so I can feel better about myself, not so I can fill up the emptiness.” – Tim Keller