Devotional–What is Grace? From The Struggle of Sanctification by Sonya Johnson
Grace: The unmerited [unearned] Divine favor of God. Grace is evidence of God’s unconditional love for humanity.
The nation of Israel is an example of a people who continuously received the gifts of God’s grace [along with God’s promise of blessings] for many generations. Yet, God’s law requires that we meet the conditions of faithful obedience to Him.
“Now if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God and are careful to follow all His commandments, I am giving you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 28:1)
Abuse of God’s Grace: We know the story. From Israel’s emancipation to the time of Jeremiah, idol worship was their first love, not obedience to the Almighty God. The Israelites loved God but viewed His laws [commandments] as too restrictive–they desired to enjoy the pleasures of sin over the promised and future blessings that they did not understand.
God’s Divine Intervention: “This is what the LORD says: ‘You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.’ ” (Jeremiah 29:10).
What does God’s grace look like? Jeremiah the prophet was chosen to deliver God’s message of 70 years of captivity as punishment for the pagan practices of the Israelites. We can agree that for their continuous rebellion against God that they deserved God’s judgment and sentence. Still, God’s plans following their 70-year sentence are words of hope, which indicate God’s grace–His divine favor upon them.
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon:
Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace, you will have peace. (Jeremiah 29:4-7).
What does God’s grace look like? Not everyone was taken to Babylon. “But Nebuzaradan [the captain of King’s army] left behind in the land of Judah some of the poor people who had no property, and at that time he gave them vineyards and fields” (Jeremiah 39:10).
Not only did God extend mercy to the poor who lived a life of suffering, but He also used King Nebuchadnezzar’s army captain to give them provisions–vineyards and land. While the remainder of Israel was in captivity, God’s grace was shown to the poor by giving them a way to sustain themselves.
What does God’s grace look like? Our Heavenly Father desires that all who love Him will receive eternal life. With love, He uses discipline to rescue us from the second death of destruction. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God [that is, His remarkable, overwhelming gift of grace to believers] is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23, Amplified Bible).
“Blessed is the man You discipline, O LORD, and teach from Your law…” (Psalm 94:12).
In studying the book of Jeremiah, God’s promises were ignored by His chosen, disobedient people. Yet, He did not give up on them. God uses discipline for those who love him but are distracted by their heart’s desires. His punishment is not meant to crush us, it is to redirect our focus to God, to produce a righteous character and a grateful heart filled with love, faithfulness, and obedience to a gracious Heavenly Father.
Grace in Action: The Babylonian captivity did not include their ancestors’ harsh treatment or imprisonment in Egypt. In Jeremiah chapters 29, 30, and 31, God promised that He would bring restoration to Israel and Judah. The history of the Nation of Israel proves that God’s loving heart attempts to save those who do not deserve the gift of His Grace. Our Heavenly Father never forsakes the righteous or leaves us hopeless even though our hearts are wayward and disobedient.
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1).
The Apostle Paul warns us not to abuse God’s gift of grace. We do not intentionally and continuously sin because we serve a God who freely extends grace. Certainly, God deserves our utmost praise. Just the thought of having a Heavenly Father who gifts us unmerited favor should motivate us to strive for righteousness.
Human Effort: It is possible to live sinless lives!
We can live every day in spiritual alignment with the plans and will of God for our lives which requires intentional surrender and commitment. By praying daily for the anointing of the Holy Spirit, we receive spiritual reinforcement and the strength to overcome temptation. Worship includes taking the time to meditate so God can speak to us. For the faithful and obedient, the blessings of grace from a Righteous and Loving God will be extended to us in a thousand ways that we can never know of.
What is Grace? God’s never-ending flow of love and favor upon the lives of the righteous.
Prayer: God, we thank You for the historical stories of humanity’s weaknesses and your divine intervention. Lord, we pray to never take You for granted. We understand that grace is a gift only needed and given to those created in your image. Thank You for loving us. Thank You for your grace and mercy. We surrender our hearts, minds, and souls to You. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.