365 Days of Grace From God's Word

Month: April 2022

God’s Handiwork 

Ephesians 2:1 – As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 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. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 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. 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. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (NIV)

If there were nine or ten verses from outside of the Gospels that I would want to share with someone who was unsure of the plan of salvation, these would be the verses!  Indeed, these ten verses contain the message of the Bible in its most condensed version.

Verses one through three tells us of our fallen sinful nature.  The influence of the evil one is great, and when we follow our sinful thoughts and desires, we are separated from God.  Indeed, we are dead in our sins, eternally separated from the giver of life.  God, however, has great love for us (verse 4), and God has given us – through Jesus – the opportunity to have life, even though our sin brings death (verse 5).  Just as Jesus was raised from the dead and brought into God’s glory, we will one day be able to share in that glory, as well (verse 6-7).

Verses eight and nine are particularly important to me, for I grew up trying to earn God’s favor, living life not knowing whether I was good enough to receive eternal life.  Eternal life is a gift.  It is not earned!  No one earns a gift, if we did it would be a wage and not a gift.  Verse eight makes it clear to all Christians that salvation is the free gift of God, and verse nine makes it clear that no one can earn this gift by being good enough (works).

What, then, is the result of good works?  Verse ten tells us that God has created us for good works, not to earn salvation, but to point others towards God.  We are God’s handiwork.  I love that word – handiwork!  A beautiful piece of woodwork (handiwork) created by a skilled craftsman exists to give witness to the skill of the craftsman.  Likewise, verse ten tells us that as God’s handiwork, we exist to give witness to the love of our craftsman – God!

Salvation is free, but we exist to point others to God as we glorify God through our life.  Let’s do our best this day to point others in the right direction!

Posted by Ramón Torres

It’s Going To Be A Great Week!

Psalm 100 – Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
    Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation. (NIV) 

It’s going to be a great week!  There’s nothing like a Monday morning, so full of hope and expectation!  What? Is this not the way you tackle the new work week?  (To be honest, my work week begins on Sunday, but the point is the same) Do you not great each new day as if it holds the promise of great things?  We should.  We should begin each day fully aware to the potential that the day holds.  Each day is a gift from God.  Each day is an opportunity to not only draw closer to God, but to draw others closer to God.

This type of attitude can only happen within us when we live a life of praise.  We went to church over the weekend and celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, but if we are to live resurrection lives, then we are to worship everyday!  Each new day should begin with a shout to the Lord!  Each new day should begin by singing songs of joy that acknowledge that we belong to God.

Verse five tells us that God’s love is everlasting.  Our troubles in this life, and our troubles even this day, will not last, but God’s love will last.  It’s Monday, but whatever this day and this week hold in store for you, live each moment knowing that God holds an eternity in store for you.  An eternity!  That, my friends, is Good Stuff! 

Posted by Ramón Torres

What Kind Of Messiah Are You Looking For? 

John 6:5 – When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. 12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. (NIV)

Today’s reading is a familiar story to most, if not all, Christians.  The stories of the feeding of the multitudes are as familiar as John 3:16.  What we don’t focus on very often is why Jesus left in such a hurry following the miraculous feeding.  If he had wanted to get his message of God’s love and grace out to the masses, here were some folks who hung on his every word.  Or did they?

The Jewish people of Jesus’ day were looking for a Messiah, but not the kind of Messiah that Jesus came to be.  They were looking for a political or military messiah, one who would ride into Jerusalem and remove the occupying Roman army.  If Jesus could miraculously feed thousands, they believed that he could certainly defeat the Romans, and I suppose that Jesus could have.  The people did not really listen to Jesus’ teaching as much as they saw his signs.  This is why Jesus so often told those that he healed not to tell anyone.

This makes me wonder – what kind of Messiah are we looking for?  I’ve know people who got mad at God and quit going to church because someone they loved died.  We all will die.  I’ve known people who have gotten disillusioned with God because they prayed and prayed, yet still lost their job.  We are all at the mercy of economics.  I could go on with more examples, but the fact remains, not all who call upon the name of Jesus are seeking the Messiah that Jesus came to be.  

Ultimately, Jesus came to make us right with God.  Our sin separates us from God, and Jesus bridges the gap.  This was Jesus’ goal.  He healed because he had compassion, but his ministry was to die for our sin.  Today, let’s celebrate a Messiah who makes us right with God!  

Posted by Ramón Torres

What Are You Expecting From Jesus?

John 12:9 – Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him. 12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

“Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!”

14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:

15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;
see, your king is coming,
seated on a donkey’s colt.”

16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.

17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!” (NIV) 

To better understand what is going on in today’s reading, let’s consider what took place in the previous chapter.  After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, some of the Jewish leaders viewed Jesus as a threat.  It was no secret that a number of the Jewish leaders were well connected with the Romans.  It was in the best interest of those leaders to keep the peace, so that their own titles would be secure, not to mention their incomes.  Following the raising of Lazarus, it became evident that many of the Jews wanted Jesus to be their Messiah.  The only problem was that the long held Jewish belief was that the Messiah would remove the Romans from their land.  This would certainly pose a problem to the well-connected Jewish leaders.  In John 11:47-48 we read: “Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”” 

This debate amongst the Jewish leaders begs this question from us: What kind of Messiah do we believe Jesus to be?  There are many Christians today who believe that Jesus is some sort of free pass for material possession and wealth.  Indeed, preaching such a Gospel has made more than a few preachers wealthy!  Other Christians view Jesus as nothing more than a ‘get out of hell free card.’  Such Christians don’t take seriously Jesus’ call to “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11).

I think it is important for us to regularly check ourselves as to what we are expecting from Jesus.  If we really believe that Jesus is the way and the truth and the life (John 14:6), then what does that mean for our daily lives? What truth about Jesus do we believe, and how are we living out this belief?  This, my faithful readers, is why daily reading from God’s Word is so vital.  Without it, we may be led to believe things about Jesus that are not true.

Jesus is the way and the truth and the life.  The life that Jesus gives is a life of inner peace, not a peace that the world says we can gain through material possessions or status.  To gain this peace, Jesus calls for us to live radically different than the rest of the world.

Today, reflect upon the question that Jesus asked in Mark 8:29:  “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” 

Posted by Ramón Torres

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