Graced - Day 5 - Saved by Grace

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Ephesians 2:8-10 - 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.

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On November 15, 2017, Salvator Mundi (which is a painting of Christ by Leonardo da Vinci) sold at auction for $450.3 million, setting a new record as the most expensive painting ever sold. Why would someone pay so much money for a piece of art? It’s quite simple: the painting is a beautiful masterpiece that gives God glory. But do you know what’s the most beautiful masterpiece ever created? Redeemed humanity.

Verse 10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works...” Just as the pinnacle of God’s creation is his work of creating humanity, the pinnacle of God’s salvation is his work of redeeming humanity. We are his masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus. To put it another way, when God set out to paint history with the story of redemption he used the life, death and resurrection of Jesus to make us a new creation in Christ.

Do you know what makes the picture of God’s salvation so beautiful? Grace. Verses 8-9 says, “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.” We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. This means there is nothing we can do to work for salvation. Salvation is 100% a work of God that God gives us as a gift of grace. What is grace? Grace is unmerited favor. The truth that salvation is a gift of grace means that God gives us salvation despite the fact that we didn’t earn it and we don’t deserve it. Since we did nothing to earn salvation, we have nothing to boast in except Jesus Christ.

This truth has brought me much comfort over the years because it means that salvation isn’t dependent on me. I did nothing to gain salvation. This makes me happy because it frees me from attempting to earn God’s love and approval through my good works. I have nothing to boast in, except Jesus Christ.

Live

• How does the gift of grace (salvation) make you feel?

• In what ways does God’s grace liberate you?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for giving you salvation - by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

Graced - Day 4 - The Gift of New Life

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Ephesians 2:4-7 - 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.

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As a kid I loved butterflies because I found the metamorphosis process to be so fascinating. My kid brain wondered, “How can a caterpillar turn into a butterfly?” It all seemed so amazing to me. Now, as an adult, I realize that throughout nature there are many examples of insects or amphibians experiencing some kind of metamorphosis. This makes sense because our God is a creator who gives life and also gives new life. Though the metamorphosis of a butterfly is impressive, it is a mere shadow of the greater and more profound metamorphosis that happens when a person becomes a Christian.

Verse 5 says, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—” This verse shows the power of God to change people. Quite literally we were spiritually dead in sin when God showed up and gave us spiritual life in Jesus. Do you realize how amazing this is? Dead things don’t normally come alive. Only God has the power to bring us from death to life.

Why did God bring us from death to life? Verse 4 says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us...” There are two reasons why God brought us from death to life. First, God is “rich in mercy.” Mercy is about God giving us kindness, compassion and forgiveness, when we deserve condemnation and damnation. As sinners, we were dead in sin and deserved damnation, but God is rich in mercy and gives salvation. Why? This leads to the second reason God brought us from death to life: love. Because of God’s great love, he gives us mercy. It seems the heartbeat of God’s mercy is God’s love and the overflow of God’s love is God’s mercy.

Take a moment to ponder the power of God’s mercy and love. Out of God’s mercy and love comes tremendous transformation. We go from being dead in sin to becoming alive in Jesus (v.5). We go from being under the power of sin and rule of Satan to being adopted into God’s family and seated with Jesus in the heavenly places (v.6). Because of God’s love and mercy we go from being children of wrath to becoming children of God. What more could we ask for?

Live

• How does the gift of new life make you feel? In what ways has God changed you?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for giving you mercy, love and new life.

Graced - Day 3 - Remembering The Past

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Ephesians 2:1-3 - 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.

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At times it’s important to remember the past. Awareness and knowledge of the past helps us understand where we have been, which gives us wisdom in knowing where we are going. Who were you before you met Jesus? What was your life like before you started following Jesus?

In these verses Paul is reminding us what life was like before we were saved by Jesus. Notice there were four terrible realities we experienced. First, we were dead. Verse 1 says, “you were dead in the trespasses and sins...” This means we were spiritually dead in sin and cut off from fellowship with God. Second, we were oppressed. Verse 2 says, “you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air...” This means we were under the power of demonic forces (Satan is the prince of the power of the air). Third, we were enslaved. Verse 3 says, “we all once lived in the passions of our flesh...” This means we were under the power of sin, and our sinful desires motivated and guided our lives. Fourth, we were under God’s wrath. Verse 4 says, “and were by nature children of wrath...” This means we lived under God’s just judgment and deserved God’s righteous wrath for our sins. Simply put, we deserved hell.

Without Jesus, we would all be spiritually dead, demonically oppressed, enslaved to sin and doomed to hell. This is not a pretty picture. These four aspects of pre-Christian life show us just how much we desperately need God to save us. Understanding who we were before we met Jesus helps us appreciate who we are now because of Jesus. Remembering what our lives were like before we met Jesus reminds us that we never want to go back to the way things were. Praise God for new beginnings and new life!

Live

• How does remembering your pre-Christian life make you feel?

• In what ways has God changed you?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for saving you.

Graced - Day 2 - A Prayer of Thanksgiving

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Ephesians 1:15-23 - 15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

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There are times when we are overwhelmed with the reality of God’s blessings in Jesus. In those moments there is only one thing to do - praise God and give him thanks. In this prayer of gratitude, Paul is doing just that by thanking God for the saints.

Notice what Paul is asking God to do in the lives of believers. In verses 17-18 he prayed “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened...” Paul’s prayer is that God the Father would give the Spirit of wisdom (the Holy Spirit) to provide revelation in the knowledge of God. To put it another way, Paul is asking God to open our hearts so that we can know fully the reality of our spiritual blessings in Jesus.

Paul specifically asked God to give us knowledge of three things: hope, glory and power. Paul wants us to know the hope to which God has called us (v.18), the glory of God’s inheritance in the saints (v.18), and the mighty power of Jesus, which is a work in us (v.19).

Paul closed his prayer by praising Jesus for who he is and all that God has done through him. Notice how great Jesus is: he rose from the dead (v.20), he is seated at the Father’s right hand in glory (v.20), he is greater than all other rulers, authorities, powers and dominions (v.21), his name is greater than all other names (v.21), all things are under his reign and rule (v.22), and he is the head of the church (v.22).

Live

• How does this prayer make you feel?
• In what ways are you thankful for Jesus?
• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God and asking him to fulfill this prayer in your li

Graced - Day 1 - A Beautiful Inheritance

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Ephesians 1:11-14 - 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

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In ancient times, when a king established a decree or made a promise he did so in writing and then stamped the document with his seal, which was often a signet-ring. The seal made an impression or imprint in the document that certified the document proving that it was indeed from the king and trustworthy. No one would question or doubt the document so long as it had the king’s seal. Therefore, the seal not only authenticated the document but also provided confidence in what was said as having the king’s authority and guarantee.

Sometimes Christians might question their eternal security. In these moments of doubt a person wonders, “Is it possible for someone to lose his or her salvation?” How do we know for certain that once a person is saved by Jesus (and justified through faith) that person will in fact never lose his or her salvation? Verses 13-14 says, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

As members of God’s family, we have been promised salvation and eternal life. There is no reason to doubt our inheritance of eternal life because we have the King of King’s promise and his promise has been sealed. However, instead of using wax and a signet-ring, God has sealed us with himself through the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee that God will make good on all his promises.

Live

• How does being sealed by the Spirit make you feel?
• What difference does the blessing of being sealed by the Spirit make in your life?
• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for sealing you with the Holy Spirit.