Today’s passage (explained in yesterday’s devotion) ends with this verse: “Paul and Barnabas ...urged them in long conversations to stick with what they’d started, this living in and by God’s grace.” (The Message, v.43)
Grace is as free and as unconditional as a parent’s love for a child, as God’s love for us. And Grace is available to each of us all the time, whether or not we think we need it. But if we accept it, do we do so wholeheartedly? How do we know?
I believe if we wholeheartedly say “Yes!” to God’s Grace, our lives will show it, even in subtle ways -- choosing prayer over a final ½ hour of TV at night, volunteering to help with Sunday School or other ministry area in need, filling a bag for LINK, taking the first step toward stopping an addictive behavior -- or, less subtly, in entirely changing the direction of our lives.
Yesterday, I watched a news anchor interview a son whose father, a FDNY fireman, died on 9/11. This son had an Ivy League Degree and an MBA, and he was steadily climbing the corporate ladder when 9/11 occurred. He said that the experience of that day and the death of his father changed everything in his life. Material things became irrelevant, and so he chose to leave his ambitions behind and instead to pursue the profession that had been his father’s passion – to help others. He became a fireman in the same FDNY Company as his father.
I believe that living in and by God’s Grace means saying “yes” to God’s passion – love (that we love God and love our neighbor) -- and leaving behind those things which are irrelevant to eternal life – material possessions, the pursuit of money, power, etc. How have the death and resurrection of Jesus changed your life?
Heavenly Father, may we wholeheartedly receive your gift of Grace, especially at times when temptation is strong, when inaction is easy or convenient, and when we believe we can handle things ourselves. May we stick with what [we’ve] started, this living in and by [Your] grace.” Amen.