“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith” – Romans 12:3 (NASB)
We find very little humility practiced in this world. Consider a current trend referred most often as “cancel culture,” (the term first appeared in 2016). Practiced by many who hold their views and attitudes to be the only correct and appropriate opinions while ignoring scientific orders and challenges our creator God’s clear truths found in scripture. There’s a current rampage against beliefs by those who don’t live according to these esteemed values or interpretations of right and wrong. In spite of fear of ostracism from others, this practice of intolerance is not becoming of those for whom Christ, by grace, has chosen, saved, and adopted as children of God. Today’s passage warns us to not practice holding ourselves above others as anyone’s “betters” – better based on the values they hold and demand others to accept and hold. Today’s promise is for each true faith believer who has received an allotment measure of faith from God sufficient to use sound judgement based our faith in God’s word. It’s this exercise which leads believers to recognize that in themselves we are nothing (1Peter 5:5), and will yield in us the fruit of humility without compromise.
“…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,” Ephesians 2:5b-6 (ESV)
Today we have selected another passage which tells us how our God has wonderful plans for us and they include what He is doing with us, His children, these days. The Apostle Paul reveals to the believers in Ephesus and to us the amazing depth of what we have since God brought us into His family. Making for us a place with Jesus in heaven, He wants this to demonstrate something very important. And now that we are a part of His family He can be very kind and generous in His treatment of us. When He treats in a kind and loving way, He demonstrates how rich His grace is because we don’t deserve such treatment at all. It is all by His grace and mercy that He does this for us. Has God been kind to you, His child? If so, that is part of His plan to show how rich His grace is. It’s as our verse says that he might show what is incomparable – the unlimited extent of grace through kindness, lovingkindness.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:15-16 (ESV)
As we look at the promises in today’s passage, let’s glance back just a bit at our promises from yesterday and remember our sleeping savior. On the stormy sea, the disciples were fearing for their lives. Experienced fishermen had to have been in storms before so to frighten them this had to be a really serious storm. Jesus needed sleep, he finds a cushion for comfort and goes to sleep unbothered by the storm. The very fact that Jesus needed to sleep reveals that He had a real human body that knew the feelings of fatigue and thirst and hunger. Hebrews tells us our high priest, is able to sympathize with human weaknesses. If Jesus had not known the weaknesses and temptations of humanity, He would not be a sympathetic High Priest, capable of offering us mercy and grace from the heavenly throne. But He does know our weaknesses because His experienced weaknesses too. He knew the pain of rejection: “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11) There’s no pain or insult we might know that Christ hasn’t had—and because He knows such struggles, He invites us to come to Him.
“Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.” Revelation 1:4-5 (ESV)
The Apostle John was given the Revelation of Jesus Christ which he wrote under the inspiration of God’s Spirit. In the book God includes letters addressed to seven churches in what is called Asia Minor. Our verses today are the greeting from the common beginning of these letters. The seven letters were sent together and given to each church as the messenger brought them. In that part of the world, the custom was and is to greet people with the word “peace.” We read this greeting now because of the way it expresses the deep meaning of the source of our peace with God. It come from God and the reason He can give peace is because of who He is. To know that God has always been, that He is now, and that he will always be⸺produces a restful peace in our hearts. So when something disturbing happens let’s remember that the promises of our eternal God are sure and absolute. The seven Spirits are likely a reference to the lampstand with 7 lamps—also a description of the Holy Spirit. And 7 is the number of completeness, so John is identifying the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (ESV)
How about the times in our lives when what we need is encouragement or comfort? Today’s verse is about the grace of God through which we are comforted or encouraged. God knows when his children need to be encouraged. He promises to give it to us. Jesus Christ, the Son of God and our Father God in heaven have provided for us eternal encouragement to help us live the Christian life. This doesn’t mean that God encourages us once and it lasts forever. It means that because He is eternally the source of encouragement and comfort. He is with us all the time. He never leaves us so whenever we need encouragement, God will be with us to give it to us. When we need comfort He is our unending supply by grace. It is a promise from God that lasts for eternity because God’s promises last that long. They never cease and He never exhausts the supply. Let’s take encouragement from this promise today.
“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” John 1:16 (NASB)
The Apostle John begins the account of Jesus’ life with a promise. The Word made flesh (John 1:14) is the source of grace, which is the sum total of all the spiritual favors God gives to people. The words “we … all” refer to Christians and include John the author. Out of His fullness His grace … “grace in place of grace”. This phrase emphasizes the superabundance of grace that has been displayed by God toward mankind, especially believers. Grace comes to Christians in the way that waves continue to come to the shore in both calm and tempest. The Christian life is the constant reception of one evidence of God’s grace replacing another. God does not run out of a supply of grace to give us and He does not consider that any of us have received all the grace we need or will ever get. It is out of His fullness which never is exhausted and love which never ends. We hope the Lord has blessed you many times in the past. In many different ways and He continues to bless us these days. What a promise we have all received – an unending supply of grace.
“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” 2 Peter 1:2 (ESV)
These words which are a blessing or prayer written by the Apostle Peter in the second letter he wrote to Christian believers in the first century. This “knowledge” is a strengthened form implying a larger, more thorough, and intimate knowledge. Our precious faith is built on knowing the truth about God. Christianity is not a mystical religion, but is based in objective, historical, revealed, rational truth from God and intended to be understood and believed. The deeper and wider that knowledge of the Lord, the more abundant is the “grace and peace”. What a great difference it makes in our lives when we come to know God and His Son Jesus Christ. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, God brings us into His family and begins to reveal himself to us. He wants us to know Him and to keep learning more and more about Him. Our verse today promises us what happens when we learn to know our Lord better. We receive grace and peace that multiplies through knowing Him. It will be true as we learn to know Him better. What a benefit is promised to us here.
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight,” – Ephesians 1:7-8 (ESV)
What is it like to have someone lavish good things on us? ‘Lavish’ is not a word we use enough but it means so much and when used in today’s context, it is a blessing and a promise. It means to pour out, to abound and our promise is that God has already poured and continues pouring out in abundance the riches of His grace. We don’t deserve grace and we can’t earn it. Grace is given to the undeserving by the will and action of God. The term ‘redemption through His blood’ is used here and is an act of paying the required ransom to God for the release of a person from bondage. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross where he bled and died, paid that price for every elect person enslaved by sin. It was Jesus Christ’s gracious action that bought each of us who believe out of the slave market of iniquity. The price of redemption was death. The promise of redemption includes the limitless grace of God, and forgiveness of sin. This promise brings divinely-bestowed spiritual understanding. This is what God has poured out lavishly, beyond our imagination because He loves us.
“For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” – 2 Corinthians 4:15-16 (ESV)
It is true that the physical bodies are by nature in a steady decay. There is no miracle or magical method that will arrest what the Apostle Paul calls ‘wasting away.’ That fact does not stop our unending search for renewal; attempting to find ways to slow the physical decline and maintain the vitality of youth. Our verses come in this chapter just after Paul has detailed what he has experienced in his body on account of his effort to bring the gospel and teaching of Jesus Christ to them. All that has happened has been for the sake of those who were served in Paul’s ministry. In other words, when the gospel enters the hearts and lives of an ever-increasing number of people, God’s grace abounds. These are fellow believers who begin to lead unbelievers to Christ. And as a result, all believers now live to please God and express their thanks to him. The effect of physical decay on Paul is that he does not lose heart and we shouldn’t either. We are promised that the eternal part of us which is within our soul and spirit is renewed every day.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God…” Galatians 2:20 (NASB)
The Apostle Paul made this statement, “I do not nullify the grace of God…” in a confrontation with those who wanted to compel new Gentile Christians to follow the Jewish Law. Paul argued that if righteousness and salvation were possible through obeying the law, then Christ died for no purpose. Being ‘good enough’ will never save anyone. We are declared righteous by what Christ did for us on the cross. Once was a young boy who was on a raft in the middle of a deep lake with his father. His father was diving off the raft to move it to shore, on one dive, the boy lost his balance and fell into the water. In a panic he tried to swim up but couldn’t. He was too far under water to reach the surface. As the boy went down a second time his father grabbed his arm and pulled him up and back onto the raft. There was nothing the boy could’ve done in that circumstance to avoid drowning. His salvation depended fully on his father. The boy added nothing – he didn’t nullify what his father’s did. That is the same with the grace from God that saves us.