Nothing You Can DO But Accept

 

4th December

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

The Gospel is simple, yet on the same hand, it is the most difficult thing. What do we mean by this? Well, the simple part is, through no endeavour of our own or good works or following a set of rules or any such like thing, we can be saved by simply believing and accepting that by God’s grace, our sins are forgiven through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and our confession and repentance of them. The hard and such difficult thing is accepting this.

As humans our natural instinct is to want to pay for something we have. We don’t go to a restaurant and expect a free meal. We want to pay for it, often out of appreciation. The same is with a piece of art or a service we may have received. Our natural reaction or expectation is that when we receive something, we feel we are obliged to either return the gift, service or item with an equal value: money or such like. Yet salvation is completely different. It is not repayable. There is no value on it. Moreover, the price has already been paid and our debt cleared by Jesus, Himself, the giver of salvation. Our only response to it, is not to try to pay for it by our good works, but simply in thanksgiving and rejoicing, receive salvation and let His salvation change us.

Friends, we can’t boast or take credit for our salvation because of the things we have done. On the contrary, we boast in what Christ has done and give Him the glory. This Christmas season, if you don’t know Jesus yet, receive His free gift of salvation. There are no strings attached, nothing is owed. Just accept, believe and receive His forgiveness and love. That is grace. That is true love. That is why we celebrate His birth.

Not Worthy But Not Worthless

3rd August

But the father turned to his servants and said, “Quick! Bring the best robe we have and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet.”

Luke 15:22

Who are you? What is your identity? Do you identify with being a sinner or is your identity renewed and restored? So often, and sadly so, many Christians mis-understand the depth and truth of grace. Instead of acknowledging the truth that they are free, children of God, they slowly fall back into the hole of condemnation and believe the lie that they are sinners, not worthy to enter into God’s presence. Yet that is completely not the truth. If we have confessed our sins, if we have been forgiven and joined into God’s Kingdom, then our identity is no longer as a sinner but as a child of God.

Let’s think about the story of the prodigal son. The father let the son squander his inheritance, dine with pigs and live a wreck-less lifestyle. Yet when the son confessed (even though he actually didn’t finish his repentance confession; such is the extent of grace), the father completely welcomed the son back into his family, making no mention of the past and adorned him with clothes, sandals and a ring to emphasise the sons forgiven and restored status.

Friends that is our status too. The Father no longer makes mention of our wreck-less past, He no longer remembers our sins, because we are forgiven. We have been given a new status. Yes we still sin, but we are not sinners. Yes we are not worthy, but we are not worthless!! We are forgiven sons and daughters, welcomed into God’s family.

 

The Power Of Grace : Re-visited

28th & 29th May

Weekend Edition

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.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

2 Corinthians 12:8-9

Today’s message is simple. There is no one else that can save us from our sin, apart from Jesus Christ. There is really nothing we can do that will lead us to salvation. Salvation is God’s work alone. There is no formula, no performance, no rituals you have to follow, because salvation is God’s free gift to us. The only way we are saved from living as God’s enemies is by accepting His gift, believing that Jesus is Lord and repenting of bad choices that lead us to live lifestyles in opposition to God! When we accept His gift to us we are adopted into His family and become sons and daughters of the most high God, no longer enemies or slaves to sin, but new creations. We become His family, His bride, and His friends.

It is God’s grace that saves us from our sins. It is His grace that paid the price that we cannot pay. It is His grace that leads us to Godly living. It is grace that empowers us to live a life free from sinful habits and grace that picks us up when we fall. It is God’s grace that turns our weakness into to opportunities for God to use us and be glorified. Yet the best news of all, as mentioned above, grace is completely free. It is not earned or bought. It is God imparting His love and acceptance over His beloved children. It’s grace that saves us and grace that keeps us.

What Does Jesus’ Sacrifice Mean For Me? Grace

18th April

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this. It is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

There was once a little girl who used to disobey her mother. Her mother one day got very angry with her child and scolded her. The little girl knowing she had done something wrong, said ‘I’m sorry mummy, I promise I will never do it again.’ The next day the child did the same thing, then again repeated her words of confession and the promise to not do it again. Sound familiar?

The story of the child’s confession, repentance and promise might sound cute but in actual fact, isn’t that what we find ourselves doing; making promises to live good lives and love God with all our hearts and then failing at every obstacle that comes our way? Yet the ‘trying’ to do good is completely missing the point of what Jesus did for us. Even our best efforts are not enough to be made right with God…!

Paul’s words in today’s verse say that ‘salvation is not reward for your good works’. Salvation is a gift from God. It is a sign of His unconditional and unwavering love for us, His children, His creation. He didn’t wait for us to become good, to deserve His gift, to get our lives on the right track, or to build up an account of good works before He died for us. No, He died for us while we were still sinners. He died when we wereacn’t good and didn’t deserve it. The point of salvation is not in the ‘trying’ or making promises to God you can’t keep, it is in ‘accepting’ that when Jesus died and rose again, He opened an account with our names, and wrote ‘unlimited grace’ next to our names, written in His blood. That is not to say we can live wreck-less lives because God’s grace will cover our sins. It is saying that because of God’s grace, our sins are forgiven and we no longer have to strive to gain God’s favour by the good things we do. Our wrong-doings have been paid, we are un-conditionally loved and free from the pressure of trying to gain God’s favour! 

Our Great High Priest

15th January

He is the kind of High Priest we need because He is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honour in Heaven. Unlike those other high priests, He does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. BUT JESUS DID THIS ONCE AND FOR ALL WHEN HE OFFERED HIMSELF AS THE SACRIFICE FOR PEOPLE’S SINS.

Hebrews 7:26-27

The most comforting thing about living a life for Christ, is that we do not worship a religion but a person, Jesus. It is for that reason that there is no long list of rules and regulations that we have to adhere to, in order to reach God. Yes of course God has set us guidelines of holy living in His word (the Bible), but the reason we are saved from our sins, is not because we have followed ‘the rules’ meticulously but rather because we have faith in Jesus Christ, and because we believe and accept that His victory on the cross, was more than enough to save us from our sins. It is because we believe that by the grace and the free gift of Jesus’ redeeming love, we have had our guilty verdict overturned and are pronounced innocent by the Judge, Almighty God.

Jesus, the perfect, sinless Saviour, offered Himself on our behalf to pay the debt we owed. Notice the words the writer of Hebrews uses, ‘Jesus did this once and for all’! Yes, you can smile! You can lift your voice in thanks! Jesus’ sacrifice was not something He had to do over and over again. It was an exchange between God and humanity. Our wretched and filthy sins were exchanged to clothes of righteousness. It was a ‘once and for all’ action.

It is in this forgiveness and acceptance that we can find our peace, joy and purpose in life. We are loved by the creator of this world. And it is by His grace that we can live for Him and love Him too.

The Shame Of Nakedness

14th December

At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hide from the Lord God among the trees.

Genesis 3:7-8

It all went wrong in Genesis… The moment Adam and Eve ate the fruit that God had forbidden them to eat, sin entered the world and immediately they felt shame at their nakedness. Prior to their rebellious act, Adam and Eve had no re-cognition of what nakedness was. Moreover, they were walking in the garden of Eden with God Himself. They were in His very presence because God was with them. Yet after they had sinned, Adam and Eve, shamed by their nakedness, made clothes out of fig leaves and to hide from God presence.

This is what sin does. Sin leads us into shame and guilt and separation from intimacy with God. That shame and guilt, in turn, leads us to want to hide from God or worse still, not to even talk to Him because of our un-worthiness. We make our own ‘fig leaf clothing’ to hide from God. Yet God’s intention was never that. He delighted to walk among His creation and enjoying intimate fellowship with us. And that is why He came!

Jesus came to the earth to break the chains of sin and shame. The shame that separates us from intimacy with God. He came out of the abundance of grace and love He has for us. He came to set us free from the mistakes that was humanity’s fault in the first place. He came to re-unite us into an intimate fellowship between us and God. Now instead of fig-leaves to cover our shame, He clothes us with righteousness and we are adorned with royal robes as sons and daughters of the Most High, bought, redeemed and saved by the precious blood of Jesus…. Jesus came to take away our shame.

Victory Over Sin And Death

24th November

But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

1 Corinthians 15:57-58

Today’s devotion is a simple reminder that Jesus has overcome sin and death. We do not need to be a people and body who live in the darkness. We are children of light. We are children who have the resurrected Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. It is in Him that victory is found. Moreover, it is because of Jesus’ victory that our lives are transformed.

It is no wonder that Paul encourages us to ‘be strong and immovable’! We live the power of Jesus’ victory. May God, this morning, grant us all an understanding of what it means to live in that power. May we understand how we can live strong and immovable lives for Christ and in Christ. May we fully understand that we don’t need to give into sin, but we can stand firm in Jesus!

Lord, may You fill our lives with a deeper understanding of Your power and victory over sin and death. Lord, guard our hearts and minds to be strong and immovable in You. Amen

At My Worst, God Gave His Best

21st – 22nd November

Weekend Edition

But God showed His great love for us by sending His Son Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Romans 5:8

Last week I stumbled across these wonderful song lyrics by a band called Rend Collective. They are taken from a song called ‘One and Only’. It is a song about the goodness of God and His glorious grace. As I listened to the song in the car, one of the verses just jumped out at me.

Who is this man upon a cross?
Who left His throne to ransom us?
Who died to save us at our worst?
And rose to give us Heaven’s best

These wonderful song lyrics really do summarise the grace of an amazing God who pours liberally showers His grace over us. For it is while we were still sinners that Christ died for us. God saved at our worst, ransomed us from death and rose on the 3rd day to give us eternal life and an intimate relationship with God the Father.

May we rejoice today in our resurrected King, in His incredible grace and His free gift of salvation. It is, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8:6, only by Jesus Christ our Lord “through whom all things were created and through whom we live.” Rejoice, His grace has saved you at your worst, giving you Heaven’s best. It is by Christ’s grace we are saved and Christ’s grace we are sustained. He created all things and it is through Him that we live.

 

 

Imitators Of Christ

28th October

Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music in to the Lord in your hearts.

Ephesians 5:18-19

Part of imitating Christ is knowing what not to do. Ephesians is full of wise council on this subject, yet it is always presented in a way that is not condemning but rather an encouragement to lead us into Godly living. We want to be imitators of Christ in all we do, not only please God but to bring glory to His Name. Furthermore, living a God fearing life brings happiness, joy and freedom rather than the chains of bondage that sinful lifestyles lead to; as today’s verse rightly warns… being drunk on wine only leads to ruined lives.

Paul encourages the church in Ephesus to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is through being filled daily with the Holy Spirit that we can enjoy the fullness of all God has for us and that our lifestyles become more like His. How amazing would it be to see churches world wide, united together by the love of Christ, being filled with the Spirit, ‘singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among’ themselves and individually making music to God in their hearts. It is then that we become a sweet aroma to Christ and to others around us. It is then that people recognise that there is more to life than reckless, sinful lifestyles and reach out for hope.

May we show grace to all those suffering in the enemies grasp. Let us show the same grace to them as we have been shown by Christ Jesus so we can reach out to them in loving kindness. After all, if we are to be imitators of Christ, then that is what He did when He was on the earth.

The Unlimited Storehouse of God’s grace

17th & 18th October

Weekend Edition

I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with His inner strength through His Spirit..”

Ephesians 3:16

Although this devotion is taken from the beginning of the year, it is a timely reminder again of how much grace God has for us. His glorious and unlimited resources are readily available for all who ask or seek.

Did you know that there is no end to God’s grace? Sometimes we feel like we have used up His resource of grace for the day or we feel like we are running on a reserve tank of grace. God is not a petrol station that once we are empty of His grace, we go, fill up and carry on with our lives until we are empty again.

This is not how He wants us to live. There is good news. God has “unlimited resources” of grace and mercy and they are glorious. He gives strength when we are weak, grace when we don’t deserve it, and love that is unconditional and all these are unlimited all of the time. There is no end to them.

Despite our circumstance, despite of sin, God wants to give you inner strength this day out of His “glorious, unlimited resources”. Let His Spirit empower you. This is not an excuse to live reckless and purposefully sinful lives but is an encouragement that when we fall or feel empty, His resources lift us up and grounds us in His dynamic victory.

Today you can have as much of Jesus as you want!!