Day By Day By Grace 2

One More Summary Message of the Law: Be Perfect

“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus provides a startling summary of the law of God: “be perfect.” Our Lord had just been teaching about God’s law. His instruction provided a much deeper understanding of the law than the teachers of Jesus’ day had grasped. He showed how the law goes far beyond external behavior alone.

The format Jesus used was “You have heard that it was said…But I say to you.” In Matthew 5:27-28, He addressed the commandment on adultery in this fashion. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.‘ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” When lustful imaginations are entertained in our thoughtsadultery has already occurred, as far as God is concerned.

In verses 21-22 Jesus used this same pattern of instruction to reveal God’s perspective on murder: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder,’ and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” When vengeful anger floods our thoughts, this is harboring a murderous spirit within the heart. Actual murder and vindictive anger both deserve the same judgment. Clearly, God’s commandments can be transgressed by the unseen attitudes of the heart, as well as by the visible actions of the body.

Again, Jesus summarized such teaching on the law by saying: “be perfect.” In the law, God requires a perfection that measures up to the perfect character of Himself. The law is saying that we are to hold within our hearts and manifest through our actions a character that matches God’s. “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Dear Heavenly Father, these words are so humbling and convicting. You are so perfect in every way. I am so imperfect in every area. Lord, even actions that I think are acceptable in Your sight can be polluted by unacceptable attitudes that fall far short of the standard of Your perfections. Thus, I cast myself upon Your mercy and grace, looking to You for the only remedies that will ever suffice, even Your forgiveness and Your transforming power, through Christ my Lord and Savior, Amen.

Day By Day By Grace

Another Summary Message of the Law: Be Loving

Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”(Matthew 22:36-40)

In His response to the question, Jesus supplies another summary of the messageof God’s lawbe loving. “Love the Lord your Godlove your neighbor.” Jesus then revealed that “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Every command in the law of God is related to one of these two commandments.

Love the Lord your God.” The primary demand of the law is an all-out love relationship with the Lord God Almighty. God is to be loved “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” From the depths of our being, love is to be flowing out toward the Lord. In every expression of our personality, love is to be poured out toward God. In every thought of our minds, love for God is to be the motivation and the content. Any aspect of life that does not indicate a comprehensive, unrestricted love toward God is in violation of His law.

Love your neighbor.” The secondary demand of God’s law is an unselfish love toward every other person. We are to love others “as ourselves.” Some have wrongly used this phrase to urge obedience to an imaginary third commandment: “We need to learn to love ourselves”?! No, Jesus said there are only two commandments here. This second one is a call to give others the consideration and care that we all have given to ourselves throughout our lives. Jesus later intensified this second command by saying, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you…” (John 13:34).

The message of God’s law is: be loving. Love God fully. Love others sacrificially.

Dear Lord God, I bow before You as the God of infinite love. I have come to love You, because You first loved me. Yet, my love for You is so feeble in light of what You deserve and what You command. O Lord, my love for others is so often diminished by my own selfishness. I humbly ask that You would work in me a more profound love for You and a more selfless love for others, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Praying The Scriptures Day:25

Day 25

Today’s Prayer Moment is drawn from 1 Cor. 3:1-4.
 Father, we ask that You will enable us to press on to maturity, to grow up, to bear our responsibilities, and to look directly at who we are and where we are and where we are going. Do not let us get sidetracked as we move from the basics to maturity. Especially keep us from becoming proud and from splintering into personality groups. Instead, empower us to maintain our unity in You. I pray this in the name of Christ, our Savior. Amen.

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Leadership Insight from the Maxwell Bible, Day 27

Today’s reading is drawn from James 3:1.

Accountability: Leaders Will Endure a Stricter Judgment

James informs us that leaders and teachers will receive a stricter judgment than other believers when they stand before God. Why? Because of their greater influence.

When a follower makes a mistake, he affects only himself and perhaps his family. When a leader makes a mistake, he affects the many who follow.

The Law of E. F. Hutton reminds us that when the real leader speaks, people listen. This can be both good news and bad news, depending on whether the leader’s words are worth listening to! God promises that those in positions of influence will give account for how they use that influence.

In one sense, God will be a spiritual accountant, the heavenly C.P.A., calling leaders to answer for how they used the resources He gave them. At the judgment seat of Christ we will be required to give an account for what we did with our lives and our influence.

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Day 24: Spiritual Gifts

Today’s reading is drawn from Ephesians 4:4-8.

EVERY BELIEVER IN CHRIST has a never-ending reserve of spiritual wealth, and it is all for the common good of the body. This wealth is revealed in the exercise of one’s spiritual gifts. Ephesians 4:4-8 sets the stage at Christ’s victorious resurrection and the days that followed. We can pin-point His ascension as the time when He “gave gifts to his people” (Eph. 4:8).

A spiritual gift is a skill or ability that enables a Christian to perform a function in the body of Christ with ease and effectiveness. That last part is important—exercising your gift comes with a great measure of ease, and when you use it, good things happen. It is ­effective. It doesn’t fall flat.

Let me clarify three things. First, spiritual gifts are given by the Lord, not some other Christian. Learning from fine Christian teachers doesn’t mean you will get their specific gifts, even if they lay hands on you. The Lord gives all good gifts.

Second, these gifts are spiritual in nature. You may be a wonderful salesperson, but sales is not a spiritual gift that God has given you—the church is not about selling anything. The function of a spiritual gift is to build up of the body of Christ.

Third, spiritual gifts are part of who you are in Christ. You don’t strive for them, and no one has to drag you kicking and screaming into the area of your gift. If you have the gift of mercy and you hear that someone you know is really hurting, you just can’t stay away. You feel compelled to bring comfort. Or if you have the gift of teaching the Scriptures, you can’t wait for the hour to come to explain them to others. You’re happy to do the homework thoroughly, and your delivery is effective. Your use of any of your spiritual gifts can be improved with the passing of time, but the essential impulse to use them comes easily and has a good effect.

Now, let me warn you of two dangers: The first is living your life not knowing what your gifts are. Sadly, if that’s true for you, you’ll never know God’s best for you. It is a tragedy that some people live their whole lives in the family of God and die not knowing that they were gifted and would have easily and effectively been able to make a contribution to the cause of Christ.

The second danger is not exercising your gift once you know what it is. I can’t think of anything more tragic than knowing that you have a gift and then neglecting it or putting it aside.

Except for hearing about Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection for me when I gave my heart to the Savior, the greatest truth I have ever uncovered is the truth of spiritual gifts. It settles the issue of competition. It takes away the confusion regarding what I’m supposed to do with my life. It once and for all frees me from the guilt of not having all the gifts. You are responsible for the gifts you have been given and the exercise of them, but not for being gifted in every area.

[call out text: Exercising your gift comes with a great measure of ease, and when you use it, good things happen.]

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