Day Five: Overflowing

Romans 5:5 (NIV)
5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

“How can we be sure? In Romans 5:5b-10, Paul gives two basic reasons: God’s love for us in Christ (vv. 5b-8) and God’s work for us in Christ (vv. 9-10). God does not mete out his love for us in tiny measures; he ‘has poured’ (ekcheo) it into our hearts. This verb is used to describe the ‘pouring out’ of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17-18).” [Douglas Moo, NIVAC Romans, p.171]

While God cannot interoperate with sin, he has acted on our behalf through Christ and made a way for this, his love being poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to those in Christ. Completely independent of whatever positive or negative worth you feel or perceive, this verse is how God sees you right now – simply put, God loves you. The liquid imagery helps us engage this aspect of superabundance -> the goal and connection point as not a cognitive understanding or inkling that perhaps God loves me, but as an experiential reality of the torrents and overflowing waterfall of God’s unexplainable kindness and care penetrating to the depths and core of who we are through God the Holy Spirit.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, help us experience this pouring in of God’s love again today, for us and through us to others! In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s worship to the song “Goodness of God” by Jenn Johnson/Bethel Music (click here).

– BW

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Day Four: One Is Not Like The Other

Romans 5:15-17 (NIV)
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

Verse 16 starts with this sequence: one sin -> judgment -> condemnation. Given God is holy and just, this is congruous and makes sense. The continuation is this sequence: many sins -> gift of God (in Christ) -> justification. This does not make sense, but it is the incongruity of the superabundant grace of God! This also means the gift of God is not free in the sense of being available for the taking without any consequence. In God’s gift, we don’t take – we receive and are joined into Christ where the right and full life God intends supernaturally becomes our life.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for this gift that is so not like the trespass. We receive your gift afresh and along with that the joining into Christ and new life in him today! In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s worship to the song “Your Grace Amazes Me” by Christy Nockels/Passion (click here).

– BW

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Day Three: Free in Full

Romans 5:6-8 (NIV)
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

“This is not a gift to the worthy: no fitting features can be traced in the recipients of God’s love, not even in their hidden potential. And this is the costliest gift imaginable. Christ did not give something, he gave himself: the gift takes place in his death and concerns his blood (5:6–10).” [John Barclay, Paul and the Power of Grace, Kindle location 1969]

Question: why does it say “his own love” in verse 8? As the passage implies, humanity apart from Christ is entirely unloveable, yet God has and demonstrates his own love for us. Here we get a glimpse of the incongruity of grace that stems from who God is. In this fullest sense, God’s grace and gift are free, not because there is no cost but rather because how he offers grace is blind to the worth of the recipient, and because what is given is himself completely.

Prayer: Amazing grace, how sweet the sound! Lord, thank you for this costly gift given out of your own love, independent of consideration of the worth of the recipient – help us to live in that gratitude and full freedom today! In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s worship to the song “This is Amazing Grace” by Phil Wickham (click here).

– BW

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Day Two: It Is By Grace

Let’s read aloud together the following scripture, confession and prayer:

Ephesians 2:4-10
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Q 1: What is the chief purpose for which man is made?
A: The chief purpose for which man is made is to glorify God,
and to enjoy him for ever.
Q 21: Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect?
A: The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ,
who, being the eternal Son of God became man, and so
was and continues to be God and man, in two distinct
natures and one person for ever.
[Westminster Shorter Catechism]

Prayer: God, we once again confess everything we have is by your superabundant grace. May the incomparable riches of joy, mercy and kindness spill over in our walks with you, in our homes and in our relationships with others. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s worship to the song “Heart of Worship” by Matt Redman (click here).

– BW

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Day One: Good News

John 3:16‭-‬17 (NIV)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

“Whatever natural power we have to do anything is from God, but God, considering the lapsed condition of mankind, sent His Son to recover us out of that condition, but we, being without strength, our Saviour hath in His Gospel offered an extraordinary assistance of His Holy Spirit, to supply the defects of our natural strength. And this supernatural grace of Christ is that alone which can enable us to perform what He requires of us.“ [Archbishop John Tillotson, The Necessity of Supernatural Grace in Order to a Christian Life]

John 3:16-17 expresses the love of God and the character of our God through the action verbs love, give, send, save. In the background and implied in the passage, we know the looming issue of Sin, but that is not what is front and center – it is our God, who is acting on our behalf. Truly, as Tillotson wrote in the late 17th century, this grace of God is supernatural, is God stepping in, intervening and acting in the most costly way to provide for a humanity that he so loves. Praise God!

Prayer: Thank you Lord for this good news of who you are and what you have done for us, but also our participation now in you and in this new life that you have for us. Help us to receive and experience this supernatural grace again and again! In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s worship to the song “God So Loved” by We The Kingdom (click here).

– BW

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Day Five: Hope of Waiting

Romans 8:32 (NIV)
32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

God saw our deepest need when we did not, he did the impossible in the overcoming of sin and death and evil through the sending of his one and only Son!  As Christians living in the tension and awkwardness of the in-between times where we do experience new creation and kingdom reality in the here-and-now but not yet in full, there are and will be other needs along the way.  Let’s bring those needs to the Lord, to experience what this passage proclaims: that God who did not spare his own Son will additionally along with him give us all things.

Prayer: Lord, I bring before you today a specific need ____.   Thank you for the overcoming of sin and death that has come through Christ, and that you provide for all other needs as well.  Lord, help me to trust you and obey you in each step with this need, and even though I do not know the how or the when, to know that you will provide.  I receive that assurance and supernatural hope of waiting today.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s worship to the song “Believe For It” by Cece Winans: (Click Here)

-BW

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Day Four: Detailed Care

Matthew 6:31-33 (NIV)
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Jesus talks about how meticulously God cares about birds and flowers as a contrast to say, aren’t you so much more valuable and important to God, don’t you know God even much more so meticulously cares and will provide for you both what is really, really good and exactly what you need?  Our needs are not minimized, nor are they the focus, rather we seek God and his kingdom and his righteousness, we lose ourselves in him – and our loving heavenly Father gives and provides powerfully and wonderfully for us, his children.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for your detailed care over my life.  I seek your kingdom and your righteousness, I run after you with all of who I am, trusting and knowing that you are the one who will provide specifically and wonderfully for me.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Let’s worship to the song “Seek First” by Ben Smith and Jason Upton: (Click Here)

 

-BW

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Day Three: Church’s Hope

Let’s read aloud together this passage and excerpt from the Heidelberg Catechism Question 1:

Psalm 131:3 (NIV)
Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and forevermore.

What is your only comfort in life and death?
That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul,
both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from all the power of the devil.
He also preserves me in such a way
that without the will of my heavenly Father
not a hair can fall from my head;
indeed, all things must work together for my salvation.
Therefore, by his Holy Spirit he also assures me
of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready
from now on to live for him.

Let’s worship to the song “How He Loves” by John Mark McMillan: (Click Here)

Prayer: Father, as Agapé Churches we put our hope in you both now and forevermore.  Our lives belong wholly to you, we are covered in your care over our lives, and we are heartily willing and ready to live for you today.  Please empower us as your people and lead us by your Spirit to walk in passionate and trusting obedience to you today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

-BW

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Day Two: Contented

Psalm 131:2 (NIV)
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.

“Christian faith is not neurotic dependency but childlike trust. We do not have a God who forever indulges our whims but a God whom we trust with our destinies. The Christian is not a naive, innocent infant who has no identity apart from a feeling of being comforted and protected and catered to but a person who has discovered an identity given by God which can be enjoyed best and fully in a voluntary trust in God. We do not cling to God desperately out of fear and the panic of insecurity; we come to him freely in faith and love.” [Eugene Petersen, A Long Obedience In The Same Direction, 147-148]

What wonderful imagery the psalmist uses of a mother embracing a weaned child.  The weaned child experiences contentment not because all felt needs are met, but rather in the security and assurance of the embrace of the mother knows all needs will be taken care of.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, would you help me experience your embrace today?  In the midst of the felt needs in my life, thank you for your nearness, to be assured and know that I will be wonderfully and fully provided for.  Help me to calm and quiet myself in your supernatural power and intimate presence.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Let’s worship to the song “Great Is Your Faithfulness” by Martin Smith (led by Jeremy Riddle): (Click Here)

-BW

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Day One: Encountering the Great God

Psalm 131:1 (NIV)
My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.

“Humility arises from a biblical understanding of who we are and who God is, which leads to absolute submission to and absolute dependence upon God. ‘It is,’ says John Owen, “…to fall down before his sovereignty, wisdom, righteousness, goodness, love, and mercy.’” [J. Stephen Yuille, Longing for Home, location 2135]

In the supernatural encounter with God, we get to experience being wonderfully overshadowed in the greatness of who he is and his love for us.  We realize he is our Creator and Father God who is concerned with and taking care of the great matters and things too wonderful for us and we respond by coming in humility and surrendering all of who we are to him, including our struggles, our triumphs, our needs, our wants, everything to be yielded to him.

Prayer: Lord, in light of who you are and what you’ve done for us, I humble myself and give myself completely once again to you. Father God, the ultimate expression of your detailed care over my life was the sending of Jesus, and today I confess and proclaim Jesus, you are my living hope!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Let’s worship to the song “Living Hope” by Phil Wickham. (Click Here)

-BW

 

 

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