James 1:22-25 (NIV)– Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
“But Jesus calls us to receive this grace by exercising faith — by making behavioral demands on us. He does this because (1) our behaviors are the external demonstrations of our true internal desires, and (2) our behaviors themselves become a means of sanctifying grace. ‘If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them’ (John 13:17). Holy habits actually work to deepen our beliefs, increase our affections, and intensify our desires. Do what Jesus says. Do whatever it takes to want what’s right. And then, with that new heart, do what you want.” [Bloom, Jon. “Passive Christianity is a dead Christianity.” www.desiringgod.org]
As we see in James and the article above, action and blessing are inseparable fruit of the Christian who remembers what “they look like.” Today, let us pray and receive afresh faith in line as those who have been loved by Jesus. Let this prayer lead you to exercise faith in action to love Jesus today, for you will be blessed!
Luke 7:44-47 (NIV) – Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
What was Jesus pointing out for Simon to see? This woman’s beautiful and loving actions of broken and passionate thankfulness were evidence of the forgiveness she had received. She loved much because she was forgiven much.
What was Simon so blind to? His great need for forgiveness.
John Newton expressed, “I once was blind but now I see,” and it became evident throughout his life and till the very end as he expressed, “although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”
Through the Holy Spirit’s ministry, let’s pray that we would continue to humbly see who we are before the Lord and know deeper “Christ is a great Savior!” Let’s also pray that today that we will live victoriously in our forgiveness reality, closing with this song, “Raised to Life” performed by Elevation Worship.
Luke 15:11-14, 17-18, 21-22, 24 (NIV) – Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father…
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ “
Though so undeserving and lost, our Father in Heaven saw us from a long way off and was filled with compassion and found us. Let’s prayerfully remember in thankfulness our Father’s heart for us as we listen to this song, “Prodigal Son,” by Keith Green.
1 Timothy 1:12-16 (NIV) – I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
God’s grace was abundantly and powerfully at work if it could save the “worst of sinners” like Paul to becoming a servant of the Lord. For John Newton, he was saved from being a “wretch” to becoming a minister of the Lord. How great is our God’s salvation that he would not only save us from sin and death, but also, include us to participate in his salvation plan.
Let’s thank the Lord that he would save and call us out to be his very own servants. And for today, let’s pray for his kingdom to come and for his will to be done as we close with this song, “As It Is In Heaven” by Matt Maher.
Luke 7:37-38, 47 (NIV) – A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.
“She had discovered that with Jesus there is enough forgiveness for all our sin, even if we are the biggest sinners in the world. All of this was proven by the woman’s love. Jonathan Edwards rightly said, ‘All gracious affections that are a sweet aroma to Christ, and that fill the soul of a Christian with a heavenly sweetness and fragrancy, are brokenhearted affections. A truly Christian love, either to God or men is a humble broken-hearted love.’” [Ryken, Philip Graham, Loving Jesus More,Kindle Locations 696-700]
As we have experienced the sweetest “sound” of God’s forgiveness, let’s pray that our lives will also be a “sweet aroma to Christ.” Because our “many sins have been forgiven”, may our lives also show great love for our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-9 (NIV) – But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved…For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
“Amazing Grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
Was blind but now I see”
These lyrics from the first verse of John Newton’s hymn “Amazing Grace” speak of his testimonial experience of God saving a “wretch” like him. The fact he referred to himself as a “wretch” reflects how he was fully aware of how “dead” he was in “transgressions.” But, because of God’s great love, John experienced the richness of God’s mercy after he cried out to God for mercy when he was nearly shipwrecked in the storm. How else could he describe it but as “Amazing Grace!”
We were once dead in our transgression, but it is the gift of God that we were saved through faith by His grace. This is amazing grace!
Let’s close in worship and prayer to the simplified version of John Newton’s hymn, “Amazing Grace,” sung by Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.
2 Timothy 4:7 –I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
In the song, “Mission’s Flame,”Matt Redman pens these words: You should be the praise of every tongue, You should be the joy of every heart! In essence, this is the passionate heart with which we are to see each person that we come in contact with—that they would know the joy of Jesus in their hearts. Today as you pray, may you also care deeply about the praise of Jesus being uttered in people’s lives.
Spend time today in worship with this song as you carefully pray through each of the verses in the song “Mission’s Flame.”
Let worship be the fuel for mission’s flame
We’re going with a passion for Your name
We’re going for we care about Your praise
Send us out
Let worship be the heart of mission’s aim
To see the nations recognize Your fame
‘Til every tribe and tongue voices Your praise
Send us out
You should be the praise of every tongue
You should be the joy of every heart
But until the fullness of Your kingdom comes
Until that final revelation dawns
Send us out
Every tribe, every tongue
Every creature in the heavens and the earth
Every heart, every soul
Will sing Your praise, will sing Your praise
Every note, every strain
Every melody will be for You alone
Every harmony that flows from every tongue
We’ll sing Your praise, we’ll sing Your praise
We’ll sing Your praise, we’ll sing Your praise
Ephesians 1:17-20 – I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation…and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…
One thing is clear. When something is dead, the only way that it can come back to life is not through a resuscitation, but through a resurrection! Perhaps this is what the church in Sardis needed. They needed the Lord to not only multiply the little that they had, but they needed the resurrection power of the Lord to bring their dead hearts, dead faith, dead love to life! Just like the way Jesus called Lazarus from the dead, the Lord needs to call our lives to life again. For us to get out from being stuck, dry, and passionless is an impossibility of our own. We can’t multiply the little that we have, and we can’t bring to life that which is dead.
However, in Christ this is the impossibly possible reality that we are invited into again and again!
Today, live in the impossibly possible reality again—that Christ will strengthen and bring our hearts to life.
Matthew 6:31-33 – So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
There is something that occurs whenever our love for Jesus begins to die out, and that is the increase of worldly concerns. However, when our hearts are burning passionately for Jesus, our primary concern becomes for God’s kingdom and glory. This is the inverse relationship that occurs for God’s people—that whenever our faith begins to diminish, there is an increase of worldly cares. Do you find yourself overwhelmed with worries and desires that has only to do with what we eat, what we wear, and what will fulfill our temporary desires? As you pray and correctly assess your life, consider what the source of your greatest concern that causes you to worry is. Jesus said it plainly, that the worries of this world are things that dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, and not of the children of God.
Today focus your prayers on having hearts that are passionately burning for Jesus and His kingdom, and may your concerns for God’s kingdom increase and the worldly concerns decrease. Listen to the song, “Seek First” as an encouragement.
2 Peter 1:4-8 (NIV) – …may [you] participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In today’s passage, we are given clear instructions on how to avoid being “ineffective and unproductive”—which is another way of saying ‘being dead’ (ref. Rev 3:2). The way we participate in God’s divine nature is to continually grow and add to our faith, instead of it being stagnant and inactive. The encouragement for today is to pray to have faith that is continually growing in the goodness of the Lord. This the foundational truth of the gospel, that He is so, so, so good to us. To then add to goodness the knowledge of our Lord through His word. Today as you open God’s word, pray that you will be filled the knowledge of Him, where He increases and we decrease. The result of having our faith continually growing in goodness and knowledge, is that we will grow in godly character—in self-control, perseverance, godliness, and loving affection towards one another.
Today may your faith grow as you pray through each of the characteristics of the divine life! As you pray, worship with this song, “Who You Say I Am,” for this is who we are—The children of God.