Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Strengthened by Grace Devotional: 12/18/19

Prayer for Wednesday: ​O Holy God, let the fire of Your love enter my heart today, and burn up all this coil of unkindness and hypocrisy, and make my heart as the heart of a little child. Give me grace, God, to pray now with pure and sincere desire for all those who I will meet throughout the day. Let me remember now my friends with love and my enemies with forgiveness, entrusting them all, as I now entrust my own soul and body, to Your protecting care; through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Scripture Reading for Wednesday: Philemon; Hebrews 1-5

Scripture Reflection for Wednesday: Today's journey in God's word visits Philemon and Hebrews 1-5. In Philemon, we are reminded that when humanity fell into sin, that fall had profound consequences for human relationships (Gen. 3:16–19). But the grace of God bears upon and transforms relationships among fellow believers, a fact that both the OT and the NT teach. Philemon’s life had been one that had “refreshed … the hearts of the saints,” and this fact brought “joy and comfort” to the heart of Paul (v. 7). In this letter, Paul invites Philemon to seek restoration with a Christian brother who had offended him. In so doing, Paul says, he will “refresh [Paul’s] heart in Christ” (v. 20) and undoubtedly those of the church that met in his house (v. 2).

In Hebrews 1, we see that Jesus Christ is central to the theology of Hebrews. The book opens with an assertion that Christ stands as the better prophet who reveals God and His way of salvation: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Heb. 1:1, 2). The reason Christ is the better prophet is because He is God’s “Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things,” a reference to Ps. 2:7, 8 wherein God promises that His “Son” would have an “inheritance” that would extend to “the very ends of the earth.” This end-time prophecy has begun to be fulfilled in Christ.

In Hebrews 2, we see that chapter 2 closes by speaking of how we have a merciful and faithful High Priest (vv. 17–18). Both of these descriptions of our High Priest are needed. If Christ were not merciful, sinners could have no confidence in coming to God. If Christ were not faithful, believers would not have a continued boldness to come before God.

In Hebrews 3, we see that Hebrews warns against the “deceitfulness of sin” (v. 13). We often fail to remember that sin is deceitful. When we begin to see by grace how deceitful, how wretched, how awful sin really is, we learn to look to God alone to renew our minds after knowledge, righteousness, and holiness that we might discern the exceeding depravity of sin.

In Hebrews 4, we see that far from being just an exalted Sovereign who is far removed from our situation, struggles, and trials, Christ has a tender heart for His people, especially in their afflictions and temptations. Do you know this throne as a throne of grace in your life? What is meant by this “boldness”? Is it the same as “presumption”? What is the difference?

In Hebrews 5, we see that Christ learned obedience through what he suffered (v. 8). Though Christ was never disobedient to His Father, He learned from the inside out, as man, what it meant to obey His Father even at great cost to Himself. If sinless Christ had to suffer to learn obedience, what does this teach us about why God’s children must suffer?

Daily Teaching (Catechism) for Wednesday:

(5.1) God the good Creator of all things, in His infinite power and wisdom, upholds, directs, arranges, and governs all creatures and things, from the greatest to the least, by His perfectly wise and holy providence, to the purpose for which they were created. He governs according to his infallible foreknowledge and the free and unchangeable counsel of his own will. His providence leads to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy (Hebrews 1:3; Job 38:11; Isaiah 46:10, 11; Psalms 135:6; Matthew 10:29–31; Ephesians 1:11).

May God help you to grow in Christ today,