365 Days of Grace From God's Word

Month: June 2022

It is Through Grace!

Acts 15:1 – Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.

Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”

The apostles and elders met to consider this question. After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

In today’s reading we find that there have been disagreements within Christianity since the beginning.  The first major debate within the Church was over the question,  “What must we do to be saved?”  In the early years, there were some Christians who had previously been Jewish, and they claimed that one must be circumcised to be saved.  While the debate on circumcision has long since passed by, Christians have found plenty of other things to put in its place.  There are Christians who maintain that one must speak in tongues; Christians who maintain that one must be baptized, and by a certain method; Christians who claim that one must belong to a certain church; and the list could go on and on. 

Christians from every era tend to forget that Jesus came to proclaim Good News.  In Luke 4:18, while quoting from the prophet Isaiah, Jesus proclaims:  “He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.”  What we must realize is that Jesus was referring to the people who were held in religious bondage, who could not see the truth, and who were under a heavy burden.  Speaking to such people, Jesus said:  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Friends, today let us remember these words of Jesus, and the words of Paul who wrote: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1).  What we need is to have faith in the grace of a Savior, and that Savior is Jesus the Christ!  Let us stand firm today, knowing that we do not need to adhere to a set of rules, but rather we need to have a relationship with Jesus.

That was Good Stuff two thousand years ago, and it still is today! 

Posted by Ramón Torres

True and Proper Worship

John 4:19 – “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (NIV)

Today’s reading comes from the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman that he met at a well in Sychar. It’s a great story, with much truth to be found, however, we will focus on just one small part.  The verse I would like to focus on is verse twenty-three: “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”

Did you ever think of God as seeking worshipers? Does God really need us to worship God, will God benefit from our worship?  I don’t believe that God benefits from our worship, but I still believe God seeks worshipers, and in particular, worshipers who worship in Spirit and truth.  If not for God’s own benefit, then why does God seek worshipers?  God seeks worshipers because God loves us, and worship benefits the one worshiping.

How does worship benefit us?  Worshiping God strengthens our minds and puts a right spirit/attitude within us.  Worshiping God drives away fear and allows faith to grow in its place.  Worshiping God reminds us of what our true and proper priorities should be.  Worshiping God allows us to feel God’s presence and strengthens us for life. 

Therefore, we should worship continually.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 tells us: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit.” 

Let us not quench the Spirit!  Worship God today!  Worship in Spirit and truth, and may you be blessed as you feel the presence of God!

Posted by Ramón Torres

God Alone Can Sustain

Isaiah 46:1 – Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low;
their idols are borne by beasts of burden.
The images that are carried about are burdensome,
a burden for the weary.
They stoop and bow down together;
unable to rescue the burden,
they themselves go off into captivity.

“Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob,
all the remnant of the people of Israel,
you whom I have upheld since your birth,
and have carried since you were born.
Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

“With whom will you compare me or count me equal?
To whom will you liken me that we may be compared?
Some pour out gold from their bags
and weigh out silver on the scales;
they hire a goldsmith to make it into a god,
and they bow down and worship it.
They lift it to their shoulders and carry it;
they set it up in its place, and there it stands.
From that spot it cannot move.
Even though someone cries out to it, it cannot answer;
it cannot save them from their troubles. (NIV)

In today’s reading we find God speaking to the Jews who were in exile in Babylon.  In verse one, we are told that Bel and Nebo stoop low.  Bel is Baal, one of the chief gods of Babylon.  Nebo was also a chief god, and was known by several names, including Nebuchadnezzar.  We are told that these idols were being carried away.  This would refer to King Cyrus’ army.  The idols would have been made of gold and would have been valuable to the new government.  In verses three and four, God reminds them that God alone is their maker and sustainer throughout their entire lives.  Unlike an idol that could be carried away, God would never abandon them.

We are told in verse six that some poured out gold and silver to make an idol.  This was referring to the Jews, not the Babylonians.  Many of the Jews adopted the worship of the Babylonian and freely participated in their religious practices.  I believe that this speaks to us in our modern world, as well.  What idols do we create?  What do we worship more than God?  Do we adopt the practices of unbelievers with whom we live in our own land? 

These are questions that we can only answer for ourselves, but they are questions we must address.  We should continually examine our lives so that we don’t drift from the One who has cared for us ‘since we were born’ (verse 3).  Only God can save us from our troubles (verse 7).

As we pray this day, let us examine our lives.  Let us put God before everything else, and trust God for God’s continuous care and guidance. 

Posted by Ramón Torres

Faith That Lives!

Acts 7:51 – “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him — 53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”

54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. And Saul approved of their killing him.

Today’s reading is the martyrdom of Stephen. Stephen is stoned to death after preaching the Gospel.  Throughout history, many people have not only rejected God’s truth, but they also reject the messenger who brings God’s truth.  Even today, Christians are martyred for preaching the truth.  We don’t think about this often, but the fact is that it is believed that worldwide as many as 90,000 Christians per year die for their belief in Jesus.  This is a staggering statistic! 

In our country, many Christians are hesitant to just invite someone to church for fear of being rejected.  How sad it is to think that across the globe thousands are dying for their faith, and many Christians in our country won’t even live for their faith.

Some may not know this about me, but I am where I am today because somebody invited me to church.  When I was a young man, my wife and I (and our two children) were not attending church.  I was a Park Ranger, and one high school senior, who liked to hunt and fish, would always ask me if I wanted to go to church with him.  He never pressured me, and we struck up a friendship.  Eventually we attended his church, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

I urge you to live out your faith this day.  You will encounter many people today who don’t have a relationship with Jesus.  If you nurture a relationship with them, you just might become the influence that they need to move towards Jesus.  Let’s live out our faith! 

Posted by Ramón Torres

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