I have been reading the daily devotions from my Faithlife Study Bible iPhone App. They have been so impactful in my life I decided I would start sharing some of them on my blog :)
March 26th – Grace and Favor
“But by much more the members of the body which are thought to be weaker are necessary, and the parts of the body which we think to be less honorable, these we clothe with more abundant honor, and our unpresentable parts come to have more abundant presentability.” - 1 Corinthians 12:22-23
What this means: we are all members of one body in Christ; God uses the broken and seemingly useless; we all have important roles. If you go back and read from verse 12, the passage talks about the “Unity in the midst of diversity” and how every role of the body is important – literally and metaphorically; if you keep reading until verse 31, the passage talks about spiritual gifts and who God has appointed in the church. It’s very uplifting! The main focus of the devotion is learning how to see others as God sees us, as one body of Christ.
The next reference preceding the devotion comes from 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
If I have wisdom, God-given gifts, faith to move mountains, give away my possessions, die as a martyr, but don’t have love, there is no benefit for me and all is for nothing.
Love is: patient, kind, selfless, forgiving of wrongs, full of rejoice in righteousness and truth
Love isn’t: jealous, boasting, conceited, dishonorable, angry
Love bears, believes, hopes, endures all things. Love never ends.
“These three things remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Love remains while everything else passes away - all gifts, talents, money, material objects, and everything on this earth.
This passage says it all. It’s my all-time favorite. Because it teaches us the most important lesson of all – love over everything. When learning to look at God’s people the way He does - and not just look, but treat! - love is the greatest importance of all. From love comes all the fruits that we are to possess, our character, ambition, persistence, and beyond.
God’s mercy is never based on what we’ve done or who we’ve been – it’s based entirely on His own goodness. The definition of mercy is “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish them.” Meaning, basically, we deserve to be squashed like ants, and even though God has that power, he loves us so immensely that He constantly extends His mercy to us so we can have peace and joy and freedom in Him.
“Remember your compassion, O Yahweh, and your acts of loyal love, because they are from old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions. According to your loyal love, remember me if you will, for the sake of your goodness, O Yahweh.” Psalm 25:6-7
I had a hard time reading this at first, but the more I read it the more I saw how simple it actually is. The Psalmist is crying out for forgiveness and mercy. And because God is good, He doesn’t give the Psalmist what he deserves and he is thankful for it. I don’t know about you, but when I surrender everything and cry my heart out to God, I always feel so free afterwards. He is so faithful, it’s unbelievable…
There’s a quote in the devotion that really convicted me. “God’s mercy should completely transform our concept of what we deserve; it should alter us so much that we treat those around us not with expectations of who they should be for us, but with grace and love, as God treated us.” And then they ask the question how are you extending God’s grace to the people around you?
This hits home for me because of what I’ going through with someone very dear to me. To put it semi-shortly: he is struggling with inner spiritual battles and has been distant from me. My heart has been breaking for him; I’ve fasted on and off and been in constant prayer for weeks like a Psalmist crying out… and yet, I still get upset when he’s not quite there for me like I need or desire. I still expect things from him that he can’t give at the moment and I get angry thinking of all I’m doing for him and how selfless and dedicated I am and yet he does things like doesn’t answer my phone calls and goes days without talking to me. It hurts me because I dwell in it. And that’s dangerous. That’s not love! I’m reminded by this devotion of all the aspects of love. It doesn’t keep records of wrongs, so why am I focusing on them? It’s patient and kind; I certainly have a few things to learn about waiting for God’s timing and not letting my anger lash out on the one I love. Oh, and it’s not selfish… All this time I’m saying to myself, “I’m so selfless, I’m here 24/7 praying and crying out for him because I love him so much; if it weren’t love I would have given up already..” and although that may be true, I realize how often I can have very selfish motives – and I hate it! Sometimes I’ll pray for his eyes to be opened so he can remember his desire to be there for me. And sitting here writing this I feel so guilty. Although I know I pray for him because I love him and want him to surrender to God in the spiritual battle going on inside him so he can experience complete fulfillment and joy, I realize that should be the only reason. I shouldn’t pray for him because I want him to talk to me and love me – no, that’s so selfish. This devotion reminded me of some incredible truths and why I’m even still with him carrying his burdens and praying for him: he, along with everybody, needs grace and love. After all us broken people have done, after all the times we’ve walked away and wronged our Creator, He is still there for us, with an abundance of love and mercy. We certainly don’t deserve it. And that’s what’s so cool, because in turn we are called to love the undeserving.
There’s something very freeing about carrying a loved one’s burdens. If you choose to do so, you can experience some unimaginable love and fulfillment through the Father.
We are called to have faith that can move mountains, compassion for the hurting, grace for the undeserving, and unbounding, endless, sacrificial love.
This is what I’m experiencing, what are you?