First Steps – May 20, 2019

Salvation is not a static, one-time event in our lives.  It is an ongoing experience of God’s gracious presence transforming us into whom God intended us to be.  John Wesley described this transforming work as sanctification and was the result of God’s Sanctifying Grace.  

If Justifying Grace is best described as a single event, then Sanctifying Grace is best described as a lasting relationship. Through Sanctifying Grace, people grow and mature in their ability to live as Jesus lived. If Justifying Grace is something God does for the person, then Sanctifying Grace is something God does in the person. In Sanctifying Grace, the person and God work together so that the inner nature of the person is transformed. The goal of Sanctifying Grace is for the nature of Christ to be formed inside the person thus affecting one’s thoughts, words, and deeds.

Because the person works with God’s grace for holy living, one must practice spiritual disciplines and do good works; however, they are not prerequisites for salvation—that is a work of God. Thus, in Sanctifying Grace, God leverages one’s good works to form the nature of Christ inside the person. Like Prevenient and Justifying Grace, Sanctifying Grace is a gift.       


This week’s reading:

  • Monday – 2 Cor. 7, 2 Cor. 8, 2 Cor. 9, 2 Cor. 10
  • Tuesday – 2 Cor. 11, 2 Cor. 12
  • Wednesday – Matthew 1, Matthew 2, Matthew 3, Matthew 4
  • Thursday – Matthew 5, Matthew 6, Matthew 7
  • Friday – Matthew 8, Matthew 9, Matthew 10

 

Please Pray for:

  • Our families, homes, workplace, church, and community.
  • Ongoing Building Renovations, Modifications.
  • Those who are unwillingly absent.
  • Those who are grieving and depressed.
  • The United Methodist Church.
  • Our nation and our leaders.

First Steps – May 13, 2019

Last week’s First Steps’ Devotional centered on God’s Prevenient Grace – the work of God before one responds to God’s call.  This week, our topic is what happens the moment one responds to that call.  Upon human response, a person experiences conversion in the form of God’s Justifying Grace.

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth: “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Cor 5:19).  Justifying Grace is the work of God that reconciles, pardons, and restores a person.  It is here that sins are forgiven and the image of God in a person, which was distorted by sin, is renewed.  

Again, this is a gift from God and something God does for the person.  The relationship is mended without jumping through hoops, restitution given, or personal atonement.  The death and resurrection of Jesus was all that was needed.  A person only needs to respond by faith in God’s grace in Jesus Christ.  


 

This week’s reading:

  • Monday – 1 Cor. 12
  • Tuesday – 1 Cor. 13, 1 Cor. 14
  • Wednesday – 1 Cor. 15, 1 Cor. 16
  • Thursday – 2 Cor. 1, 2 Cor. 2
  • Friday – 2 Cor. 3, 2 Cor. 4, 2 Cor. 5, 2 Cor. 6


Please Pray for:

  • Ongoing Building Renovations, Modifications.
  • Our families, homes, workplace, church, and community.
  • Those who are unwillingly absent.
  • Those who are grieving and depressed.
  • Our nation and our leaders.
  • The United Methodist Church.

First Steps – April 29, 2019

When we think of Jesus and his disciples, we mostly think that the disciples needed Jesus and we miss the reality of how much Jesus needed the disciples. When we view the last week of his life, especially the last night of his life, we can easily see how much Jesus needed his disciples. He actually called them his friends and the ones who had stood by him in his trials.

On that last night, they shared the annual celebratory Passover meal filled with roasted lamb, wine, and much laughter. At some point, the night turned sober and even dark when Jesus got up from the table, washed their feet, and then shared that one of them was going to betray him. Strange as that was, the disciples’ denial was in the form of a question, “Surely not I?” Perhaps it was at that moment that they realized that all of them were flawed and that given the right circumstances, they too would betray and run.

Though we will never know their exact thoughts on that last night, we can draw strength from knowing our own frailties. It has been my experience that most moral failures occur when one is least aware of what temptation cords are being strummed. It is one thing to know one’s strengths but something completely different to know one’s weaknesses. Know your strengths, but also know those areas that present the greatest temptations. If you don’t know them, ask God. He will surely tell you.


This week’s reading:

  • Monday – Mark 11, Mark 12
  • Tuesday – Mark 13, Mark 14
  • Wednesday – Mark 15, Mark 16
  • Thursday – Gal. 1, Gal. 2
  • Friday – Gal. 3, Gal. 4

Please pray for:

  • New Youth Building Dedication and Service on May 5.
  • High School Senior Sunday, May 12.
  • Ongoing Building Renovations, Modifications.
  • Our families, homes, workplace, church, and community.
  • Those who are unwillingly absent.
  • Those who are grieving and depressed.
  • Our nation and our leaders.
  • The United Methodist Church.