Today's Lectionary Text
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.
The following devotional is a reflection on the themes expressed and celebrated in the praise and worship song “You First Loved Us” written by United Methodist Pastor Chris Aytes. You can listen to “You First Loved Us” here: https://youtu.be/F7H2zbDw4jE
I had the privilege to attend the recent Leadership Institute at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, where David Brooks was speaking. You may be aware of David’s writing through various publications, or familiar with him from television and radio programs.
David was an excellent and captivating speaker but the highlight, by far, came when he was asked about his faith journey. While telling his story, David said something like, “This may sound funny, but it’s like I experienced God’s grace before I came to believe in God.”
I then turned to my neighbor and said, “Clearly he’s not that familiar with Methodism.”
We’re all about that grace! Prevenient... justifying... you know the rest, right? We have come to understand that this is how God works. We love him because he first loves us. His kindness, not his wrath, leads us to repentance. In Jesus, God laid down his life for us long before we even considered giving ours to him. He sends the rain on the just and the unjust. While we were still sinners, he gave himself for us.
It’s all God, and it’s all grace.
Wherever you are today in your walk, whatever you’re working through, overcoming, struggling against, striving toward... it’s not on you. It’s not about you. The grace of God is much more than forgiveness; it’s empowerment. By the grace of God you can accept the calling he has given you. By the grace of God you can walk down the path he has set. By the grace of God you can do the works he has planned for you.
Don’t strive. Don’t struggle. Stop to give thanks and praise. Renew yourself in God’s presence and give yourself to his grace. This isn’t to say following God and his call on your life is easy. It’s not easy - it’s difficult and costly. God does not leave us to do this difficult and costly work on our own, however. With the leading and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, there is nothing you cannot overcome.
Wamego First United Methodist Church
Prayer for Reflection
Father, help us to let your grace not only set our agenda, but be our agenda, laying down all of the work you are not calling us to so we can operate more freely in your leading, gifts, and callings.
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