Devotional Guide

In the two weeks leading up to our Grace Offering we're going to immerse ourselves in grace. That's not to say that we will sin more so that grace may abound (Paul argued against that in Romans 6), but we want to soak up what God has done for us. For it is only when we truly appreciate what God has done for us that grace will flow through us.

For each day from March 23 - April 5 we'll take a look at a Scripture that teaches us something about grace. As I was putting all these verses together I was surprised to see that grace is more often used to express the change that takes place in our life rather than just the forgiveness we experience. Both are important concepts in understanding grace, but I tend to believe we have emphasized the forgiveness aspect far more than the transforming aspect.

Each day read the Scripture (you may want to go a little deeper and read the verses before and after as well), read the brief thought, and then use the prayer to bring your thoughts before our Father.

So join us as we delve into this amazing grace!

Friday, March 20, 2015


Today's Scripture:
Ephesians 2:8, 9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

Today's Thought:
Who doesn't love getting gifts?  And that is exactly how Paul describes our salvation - a gift.  An unmerited, free gift that none of us earned and none of us could ever earn.  The only hope we had for a relationship with God rested solely on God's graciousness. Paul knows this as good as anyone, doesn’t he?  As a murderer of Christians Paul was well aware that he could never make reparations for the sins that he had committed.  Paul appreciated grace because he knew that was his only hope.

Do you appreciate grace?  One reason we may not is that we minimize the severity of our sins.  Many of us struggle with socially acceptable sins, not murder!  That may be true but we need to realize that socially acceptable sins are not spiritually acceptable sins.  In contrast to the holy God every sin is "as scarlet."   Every evil thought.  Every angry outburst.  Every lustful look.  Every selfish action.

Today let's remind ourselves that we are all in the same boat - we all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory - and all of us are hopeless without God's graciousness. He has given us a gift we have not earned.  A gift we could not earn.

Today's Prayer:
Gracious God, let us call to mind the ugliness of every sin, especially those we often overlook.  Help us to see ourselves as totally lost, doomed for destruction, on a straight path to everlasting death - until you saved us.  Wash over us the joy of salvation.  Fill us with an unprecedented appreciation for the gift of salvation.  We give you thanks for our Savior, Jesus Christ, who bore our sins and earned for us a good standing with you.  In his saving name we pray.  Amen


Today's Scripture:
Luke 2:40
And the child (Jesus) grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

Today's Thought:
This verse caught me by surprise!  I guess I had read it many times, but this time the association of grace with Jesus caught me off guard.  Jesus had grace?  I've always been taught that Jesus was without sin, so why would he need grace?   This got me to thinking that grace is deeper than I had given it credit.  Grace can’t be just forgiveness, it must be something more!

Jesus was not a recipient of grace, he was a container of grace.  And as we see in his life he was also a dispenser of grace - it poured out from him.  This may be why he had such an appeal to people who needed grace - they could sense this beautiful aura he had and even if they didn't recognize it as God's grace, they were nonetheless attracted to it.

I certainly need grace.  You certainly need grace.  We are all recipients of grace, but now I am thinking that it goes deeper than that for me and for you.  We need to be containers of grace and as our containers fill up we will become dispensers of grace.

I have thought of grace as a spiritual "get of out jail free" card.  Whenever I sin, I cash it in and go on with the game.   I'm not thinking that way anymore.  Grace is more like a liquid being poured over me and even poured into me.  It doesn’t just come and go when I need it, it comes and stays.  It soaks into my soul so that it builds up to the point where I not only become a beneficiary of grace, I become a container of grace.

This is where we start to realize that grace is, as they call it, the" gift that keeps on giving."  The person graced becomes the person grace-filled becomes the person graceful.

Today's Prayer:
Graceful God, lead me to understand that your grace is not just something for me, it is something in me.  It doesn't just come and go, it comes and stays.  It comes and changes.  Your grace makes us strong and wise.  Help us to be containers of this amazing grace.  In the name of the graceful one, our Savior Jesus, we pray.  Amen.


Today's Scripture:
Philippians 1:2
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today's Thought:
Did you know that the majority of the New Testament letters begin with a common greeting?  They do and it goes like this: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.  It's the common refrain of the New Testament.  Open up to almost any New Testament letter and those are among the first words.

Grace had become so treasured that people would greet one another with it.   It was the "Hello," "Hey," and "Howdy" of the New Testament world.

  •  Before I tell you anything else I want to remind you about grace
  • We can’t forget grace.          
  • Nothing else will really makes sense unless evaluated in the light of grace. 

Grace is indispensable in comprehending the Christian life, so before any of these God-inspired authors reprove, rebuke, or exhort they remind their readers that we first have to put on our grace glasses - for only then can we see clearly.

Most of these New Testament letters are challenges to Christians to live the God-honoring lives we were called to live, and most of these challenges are daunting.  We are called to serve.  We are called to love (even to love those who hate us).  We are called to endure through difficulties.  We are to live cross-bearing lives.   This call is beyond us if we are not immersed in grace.  Without grace the burden becomes too heavy and we will be crushed by the weight.  Without grace the pressure gets too high and we will implode from the stress.

Our Christian lives can only be lived out powered by grace.  When the weight becomes unbearable and the pressure becomes intolerable greet that challenge with the word - Grace.   There's always a reservoir for us to draw from - God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today's Prayer:
Graceful God, help us to greet each day with grace.  Help us to greet each challenge with the mighty power of your grace.  May we understand our call in light of the grace we have received and always be aware that your grace is always sufficient.  Thank you for greeting us with grace.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.


I have three verses for you today and each one talks about grace being distributed to every believer. 

Today's Scriptures:
1 Peter 4:10
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

Ephesians 3:2
Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you.

Romans 12:6
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.

Today's Thought:
These verses remind me of the days when I played Little League baseball.  One of the most exciting days was when uniforms would be distributed.  We'd gather around coach smothering him with our excitement as he called out our names one by one.  What a thrill to get that cap and that uniform.  He distributed those items with the expectation that we would use those.  These were not to be stored in a closet or framed for display - these gifts were meant to be used!

The Greek words for grace and gift share a common root.  Once again, I'm reminded that grace is not just a gift that comes and goes, but a gift that empowers me to become a giver myself.   Grace prepares me for the game.

As we progress in this two week period of prayer and fasting I want us now to especially think about how God's grace has been given to us so that we can become givers.    Grace has been distributed to every one of us and it becomes our job to faithfully put that gift to God's service.

I remember those baseball caps I wore.  The day we received them they were fresh and new.  By the end of the season those same caps, sweat-stained and tattered, bore the marks of use.  The grace-gifts God has given us are not for display purposes, they are to be put to work.

Today's Prayer:
Dear gift-giving Father, as you have distributed grace-gifts to each of us, help us to get in the game using those gifts to be part of your mission to flood the world with your grace.   In whatever measure you have gifted me, may I take those gifts off the display shelves and into the battle.  In Jesus name.  Amen


Today's Scripture:
1 Corinthians 15:10
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

Today's Thought:
I remember first coming across this verse and having one of those "aha moments."  Paul's observation brought to me a new understanding of what grace is - not just God forgiving me but God empowering me.   We don’t work to obtain grace, but once we receive grace we begin to work.  Grace, true grace, is never without effect.  Grace always changes us.  Grace always puts us into action!

When I look at Paul's life and his untiring service I wonder how he had all that energy and all that passion.  He says it all emanated from his understanding of the riches of God's grace in his life.  It's like the gratitude you would feel toward someone who saved your life.  You would want to do anything you could to express to that person how grateful you are for what they have done.  When we understand what God's grace has done for us we instinctively become agents of that grace wanting to share with others the good news of salvation. 

One exercise I find helpful in my life is to imagine where I would be without God's grace.  I can’t imagine not having the hope and joy that is mine because of God's place in my life.  When I consider that, I find myself more appreciative of God's mercy and more motivated to participate in the process of sharing that grace with the world around me.

Today's Prayer:
Graceful God, may I ever be aware of your mercy to me.  May I allow your gift to overwhelm me with thanksgiving and appreciation and empower me to be a vessel of that grace to those around me.  In the name of Jesus I pray.  Amen.