Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.
Salvation does not come by confirmation, communion, baptism, church membership, church attendance, trying to keep the Ten Commandments, or living out the Sermon on the Mount. It does not come by giving to charity or even by believing that there is a God. It does not come by simply being moral and respectable. Salvation does not even come by claiming to be a Christian. Salvation comes only when we receive by faith the gift of God’s grace. Hell will be full of people who tried to reach heaven some other way.
The apostle Paul said, “The law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:20–21). The first provision of the gospel is grace, which is neither earned nor deserved.
Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse said, “Love that gives upward is worship; love that goes outward is affection; love that stoops is grace.” God has stooped to give us grace. Will you receive it?
|January 16||Contentment: How to Enjoy It|
“Let your way of life be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?’ ”
Your relationship with God allows you to enjoy genuine contentment.
In view of yesterday’s lesson, you may be asking, “But how can I enjoy contentment and be satisfied with what I have?” You can begin by realizing God’s goodness and believing that He will take care of you since you are one of His children. You can claim again the promise in Romans 8: “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (v. 28).
Second, you should truly realize that God is omniscient—He knows all things and all your personal needs. He recognizes your individual needs long before you do and even before you pray about them. Jesus affirms, “Your Father knows that you need these things” (Luke 12:30).
You can also enjoy contentment by remembering that what you want or need is one thing; what you deserve is another. The patriarch Jacob confessed, “I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which Thou hast shown to Thy servant” (Gen. 32:10). Contentment will more likely be yours if you consider that God’s smallest favor or blessing to you is more than you deserve.
Ultimately, however, real contentment will be yours if you have vital communion with God through Jesus Christ. Then, like the apostle Paul, temporal things will not matter so much: “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8).
Suggestions for Prayer: God may or may not grant you some new blessing today or this week. In any case, pray that you would be content.
For Further Study: What do Ecclesiastes 2:24; 3:12–13; and 8:15 all say about contentment? ✧ What does Psalm 37:7 say our everyday attitude should be?
THE IMPERATIVE OF MEETING GOD
Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.
Sometimes preachers get carried away and start sermonizing on the great calamities posed by communism and secularism and materialism. But our greatest calamity is the closed heaven, the silent heaven. God meant for us to be in fellowship with Him. When the heavens are closed, men are left to themselves. They are without God.
Ezekiel and all the rest of God’s faithful servants learned something that we must learn. If there is anything worth having, it will have to be something that we get from God Himself. The heavens have been closed since mankind began reasoning God out of our world. What used to be the hand and providence of God is now just natural law….
But in the Christian faith it is imperative that the individual meet God. We are not talking about just the possibility of meeting God. We are not saying just that it would be a good thing to meet God. Meeting God is imperative! MMG119-120
Lord, deliver me from Your absence today; open the doors of heaven and bestow upon me Your presence. May this be imperative in my life, both now and always. Amen. 
Trust in God Transcends the Temporal
He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ ”—Matt. 4:4
James, the Lord’s earthly half-brother, reminds us that this life is very temporary and uncertain—it is not even guaranteed that we will have an earthly future. James’s practical letter teaches us: “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that’ ” (James 4:14–15).
Like Jesus, what we are all about and the ultimate goals of our lives should focus on the eternal, not the temporary. The guiding principle and central motive of our lives must be to please God and trust Him for absolutely everything (cf. Matt. 6:33).
Jesus posed some searching questions in the Sermon on the Mount:
Why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!” (Matt. 6:28–30)
We always suffer and miss out to some extent on spiritual blessings when we shortsightedly worry about the temporal instead of focusing on the eternal. Jesus’ response to the devil’s temptations is again our model.
|How much time do you spend listening to the nagging complaints of worry? How much is fretting a part of your thought process? When are you most susceptible to letting anxiety rise up within you, stealing your joy and perspective? Pray for freedom from anxiety—and the faith to replace it.|
GOD SETS NO LIMIT
Let no man deceive you with vain words.
Do you know that there are Bible “interpreters” now who believe they can set up rules as to how much we can have of God? However, the Lord Himself has promised that as far as He is concerned, He is willing to keep the candles of my soul brightly burning!
So, my heart tells me to ignore the modern scribes whose interpretations, I fear, are forcing the Spirit, the blessed Dove, to fold His wings and be silent. I turn rather to one of Dr. A.B. Simpson’s hymns rarely sung now, probably because very few believers have this experience of which he wrote:
I take the hand of love divine,
I count each precious promise mine
With this eternal countersign—
I take—He undertakes!
I take Thee, blessed Lord,
I give myself to Thee;
And Thou, according to Thy Word
Dost undertake for me!
Lord, fill me anew with Your precious Spirit. I pray that others will see You living in me today.
|January 16||Anticipating Your Inheritance|
“In [Christ] also we have obtained an inheritance” (Eph. 1:10–11).
As a member of God’s family, you have obtained a future inheritance that has many present benefits.
An inheritance is something received by an heir as the result of a will or a legal process. It’s a legacy one receives from family connections.
As a member of God’s family, you are an heir of God and a fellow-heir with Christ (Rom. 8:17). As such you have obtained an inheritance that Peter called “imperishable and undefiled … reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4). It cannot perish, fade away, or be defiled because Heaven is timeless and sinless. It is a secure inheritance.
In Ephesians 1:11 Paul refers to it in the past tense (“have obtained”). That’s significant, because the fullness of your inheritance won’t be revealed until you are glorified in God’s presence (1 John 3:2). But your inheritance is so sure that Paul refers to it as if it is already in hand.
Although its fullness lies in the future, your inheritance has present benefits. In addition to inheriting Christ and the Holy Spirit, you also inherit peace, love, grace, wisdom, joy, victory, strength, guidance, mercy, forgiveness, righteousness, discernment, and every other possible spiritual benefit. Paul sums it all up in 1 Corinthians 3:22–23: “All things belong to you … and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.”
Nowadays many Christians are so preoccupied with acquiring material goods that they miss many of the present benefits of their spiritual inheritance and the joy of anticipating its future fulfillment. Don’t fall into that trap!
Looking forward to your eternal inheritance will help you maintain a proper perspective on temporal things and will motivate you to praise and adore God.
Suggestions for Prayer: Praise the Lord for the incredible inheritance that awaits you in Heaven. ✧ Thank Him for the present benefits of your inheritance, which are yours to enjoy daily.
For Further Study: One precious aspect of your eternal inheritance is God’s mercy. Psalm 136 reflects on the lovingkindness God demonstrated toward Israel. Read that psalm, noting the manifestations of God’s love that relate to your life.
THE GRACE OF GOD CANNOT BE EXTINGUISHED
And the grace of our LORD was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
1 TIMOTHY 1:14
Brethren, we should be keenly aware that the living God can no more hide His grace than the sun can hide its brightness!
We must keep in mind also that the grace of God is infinite and eternal. Being an attribute of God, it is as boundless as infinitude!
The Old Testament is indeed a book of law, but not of law only. Before the great flood Noah “found grace in the eyes of the Lord,” and after the law was given God said to Moses, “Thou hast found grace in my sight.”
There never was a time when the law did not represent the will of God for mankind nor a time when the violation of it did not bring its own penalty, though God was patient and sometimes “winked” at wrongdoing because of the ignorance of the people.
The great source and spring of Christian morality is the love of Christ Himself, not the law of Moses; nevertheless there has been no abrogation of the principles of morality contained in the law. The grace of God made sainthood possible in Old Testament days just as it does today!
God has promised that He will always be Himself. Men may flee from the sunlight to dark and musty caves of the earth, but they cannot put out the sun. So men may in any dispensation despise the grace of God, but they cannot extinguish it!
 MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 27). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.
 MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 24). Chicago: Moody Publishers.
 Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 28). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.