Great Plains Daily Devotional for 4/26/2021

Today please be in prayer for

Brenda Harter
Corning: Trinity UMC
Goff UMC
Wetmore UMC
Topeka District
Larry Buss
Nortonville: New Covenant UMC
Winchester UMC
Topeka District
Darlene Sheffer
Bellevue, KS UMC
Zion UMC
Topeka District
Laura Stubblefield
Campus Minister
University of Nebraska, Kearney Campus Ministry
Gateway District

Today's Lectionary Text

Romans 4:5

But faith is credited as righteousness to those who don’t work, because they have faith in God who makes the ungodly righteous.

Today's Devotional

I must say, being here at Asbury Theological Seminary has truly been a treat. It is one of those places where I have learned a lot, but I have also grown a lot in my faith and relationship with Christ. Between classes like Inductive Bible Study and Church History and Basic Christian Doctrine, I have learned so much. One of my favorite classes, so far, has
been Theology of John Wesley. Oh John Wesley, the man who started the Methodist Movement in 18th century England and early America. We had to read 60 of his sermons, and he wrote many sermons, and we learned the theology of the man whom our denomination gets a lot of its teaching. There is one concept that really stood out to me during this class. The concept of justifying grace impacted my relationship with Christ and myself.

Before I continue, I think it is important to understand the different kinds of grace that come from Wesley. Many of us have probably heard of justifying grace, as well as prevenient grace (or preventing grace as Wesley calls it) and sanctifying grace. Prevenient grace is the work of the Holy Spirit before we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. The
Holy Spirit works to draw us to Christ and continues to draw us to God after we are justified, especially when we stray a way. Sanctifying grace is where Christ works in us throughout our life to make us more like Him, more holy. This is a lifelong process and continues to work until we reach Christian Perfection. These works are always bringing us
closer to Christ, and with these, the Holy Spirit works in us to learn of our sins, repent from our sins, and help us live more holy lives.

Then there is justifying grace, which is really cool. Wesley believed that the moment that we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are completely justified and restored (or reborn). Because we have faith that Christ died on the cross for our sins and rose three days later, we are completely justified. It is as if we are arrested and the judge completely
expunges the charges from our record. Christ completely takes away our sins! Is that awesome or what?! To quote Wesley himself, he says “Thus look unto Jesus! There is the Lamb of God, who taketh away thy sins!…Believe in the Lord Jesus: and thou, even thou, are reconciled to God” (Wesley, Justification by Faith). Our sin record is completely wiped away and we are reconciled to God. Of course, this does not mean that we can keep going around and sinning as we so please. That is why once we are justified by faith, the work of sanctifying grace begins where Christ continues to work in us to make us holy.

This is something we need to rejoice for! Christ justifies us, even though we do not deserve it whatsoever. However, there are so many of us who still try to please God with our works; we try to justify ourselves with what we do. I love what Rueben Job had to say in his “40 Days with Wesley” devotional. He says, “There seems to be a human tendency to try and justify ourselves. We like to compare ourselves to those whose lives, in our view, are less moral or faithful than our own” (Job, 40 Day with Wesley, 91). I often find myself doing this, even viewing myself lower than others. I struggle with forgiving myself or I justify myself by saying that I am better than someone whose sin is worse than my own.

We cannot be this way, though! We cannot be like the Pharisee in Luke 18 who says that at his sin is not as bad as the tax collector’s sin. No, we must be like the tax collector and ask God to be merciful to us beloved sinners. This is why Jesus died, so that we can ask for forgiveness, so that we can be justified. We cannot justify ourselves, only Jesus can
justify us. I think another Job quote will suffice to explain this. He says, “We can never justify ourselves, be reconciled to God, or earn our way to heaven on our own. But the marvelous good news is that God offers it all to us as a gift. We are saved, in this world and the next, by grace through faith. We are justified, our loving relationship with God restored, by God’s action and not our own” (Job, 92).

So my friends, think about where in your life you try to justify yourself and marvel in the fact that justification is a gift from God. We get to graciously accept that gift and be reconciled to God. Will you accept that gift?

-Abraham Ruffcorn
Emporia State Alumni
Asbury Theological Seminary student

 

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