Week 5 January 28 - February 3, 2018

Have you ever wondered why when we return thanks to God before we eat supper, we call that prayer “saying grace.”

While there may be multiple explanations for how those two words have become such a popular dinner table expression, there are two main reasons why “saying grace” is so fitting.

First, grace is a gift from God, so repeating the term at meals reminds us that every morsel of food we consume is also a gift that comes from God’s gracious hand. And second, just as we need food to sustain our bodies, we also remind ourselves that we need the daily grace of God to sustain our very souls.

It was famous Christian philosopher Dallas Willard who best defined grace as “God’s action in our lives to accomplish what we cannot accomplish on our own.” In other words, grace is God’s loving way of providing what we need for every moment of our lives because we are unable to provide those needs for ourselves. And the most shining moment of God’s grace in our lives is the miracle of our salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” This powerful passage proclaims that eternal life is made possible exclusively by God’s grace, and we can’t add to it or take away from it – we can only receive it as a gift.

But how exactly have we been saved by grace? Utilizing Willard’s earlier definition of grace, we need to see our eternal salvation as an unmerited gift from God that was made possible by Jesus Christ acting in our lives to accomplish what we could not accomplish on our own.

Christ secured this gift in two ways: First, He lived the perfect life we should have lived to earn us an unblemished record before God – we call that our “righteousness.” Second, He died the sacrificial death we deserved to take on our punishment – we call that our “atonement.”

In simpler terms, Christ offered us grace by exchanging His record of perfection with our record of sin. So, through God’s grace, we receive the reward of eternal life because of everything Jesus did right, and Christ received the punishment of crucifixion because of everything we did wrong. This is the truest and most glorious example of God’s amazing grace!

Finally, because this act of grace is a gift that can never be earned, Paul teaches us that we must receive it by faith. Having faith in Jesus Christ starts with an acknowledgment that we are sinners who cannot earn our salvation. Once we realize our desperate need for a savior, we then trust that Christ has met the requirements of a savior by declaring us innocent before a holy God through His perfect life, sacrificial death and supernatural resurrection. And if we trust that Christ died for us, our response is to spend the rest of our days living for Him.

So, the next time you fold your hands and close your eyes to “say grace” at the dinner table, remember that it is the grace of God that not only provides daily food for your needy body, but also eternal salvation for your needy soul.

Learning How to Say Grace  

Click Here For Downloadable PDF




The Point of the Passover

          In Exodus 12 we read about God's institution of the Passover for the people of Israel. After commanding that a sacrificial lamb be slaughtered on behalf of each Israelite family, the Lord gives specific instructions on what to do with the blood of the lamb to receive blessing and protection. In Exodus 12:13 the Lord proclaims, "The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt." By deciding to withhold His wrath and pass over the Israelite homes covered in the blood of the lamb, we see a foreshadowing of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It is because of the blood of Christ that God has withheld His wrath, passing over all believers and granting them eternal life. That is why when John the Baptist pointed at Jesus in John 1:29 he said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

Giving Glory to the Great "I AM"  

          When God spoke to Moses through a burning bush in the third chapter of Exodus, Moses asked the Lord what name He desired to be called by. God's response in Exodus 3:14 is astounding. The Lord simply told Moses, "I am who I am."  This expression immediately separates God from every other created being on planet earth. In just five words, God teaches Moses, and all of us, that He is an "eternal present-tense God." This means that God always was, is now, and will always be eternally present among His creation. God is the not the great "I was" or the great "I will be" but the great "I am." He is perfect in every way and always has been. He is also fully present in every moment of created existence and always will be. Aren't you grateful to worship a God who is equally present during the best and worst moments of your walk with Him?

Focusing on the Fullness of God

          God is so infinite and majestic in all of His divine qualities that it is impossible for the human mind to comprehend the full measure of who God is. However, Paul teaches us in the book of Ephesians that if we consistently meditate on the love of Jesus Christ, we will be filled with a full measure of God's abiding presence. Ephesians 3:18-19 says, "…that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." This means that the love of Christ is more massive than the Grand Canyon, longer than a thousand football fields, taller than a Manhattan skyscraper, and deeper than the middle of the Pacific Ocean. And if we are rooted and grounded in this amazing love, we need to fix our minds and hearts on Christ so we can be filled with the fullness of this love in our everyday lives.

Tips to Keep You on Track

In this upcoming week’s readings, you will discover God’s command for the Israelites to build a tabernacle. This tabernacle is a place for God to dwell and be present with His people. There are many specific requirements that God gives to the Israelites as they build this tabernacle, and each element has special meaning. However, instead of getting bogged down in all the specifics, try to focus on two things: the holiness and love of God. The holiness of God reminds the Israelites that they can only approach God’s presence on His terms. The love of God also reminds them that the Lord has a fatherly heart and wants to be close to His people.

Week 6 Readings: February 4-10

-Day One:  Exodus 16-18; Ephesians 4

-Day Two:  Exodus 19-21; Psalm 33; Ephesians 5

-Day Three:  Exodus 22-24; Psalm 109; Ephesians 6

-Day Four:  Exodus 25-27; Psalm 90; Philippians 1

-Day Five:  Exodus 28-31; Philippians 2