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Day 1

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Read the scripture for today and consider:

  • Why do we typically feel the need to earn someone’s gift to us, or at least pay him or her back for it somehow?

In his letter to the Romans, Paul used the word “gift” to describe what has been given to us through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. If something has been given to us as a gift, then it is free. There is no charge, no obligation, and no debt. A gift is a simple concept. I’ve never had to explain what it means to my kids. They just get it. On Christmas and birthdays, not once have they offered to reimburse me for their Lego set or football. Not once have they set the toys down, gone into the kitchen, and washed dishes until they paid off their presents. It’s grown-ups, us “mature” people, that need to be constantly reminded of the true definition of grace. It’s free. It’s a gift. And it’s ours to keep.

  • Have you ever received a valuable gift with no strings attached? Did you feel uncomfortable accepting it? If so, why?

  • How would the person who gave you the gift feel if you didn’t accept it unconditionally as he or she had intended?

  • Have you believed any wrong concepts about God’s gift of grace, forgiveness, and eternal life?

day 2

Where sin increased, grace increased all the more. (Romans 5:20 NIV)

Read the scripture for today and consider:

  • According to this verse, what specific sin or amount of sin cannot be covered by grace?

This verse in Romans 5 is what some might call a dangerous verse. People might get crazy with this verse. Paul says that no matter how much our sin increases, God’s grace increases even more. If our hole gets deeper, then God’s shovel gets bigger. There’s nothing we can do that can’t be made up for by God’s grace. See what I mean? Dangerous. What’s to stop me from going out and doing whatever I want? If God’s grace covers it all, I can do whatever I want, right? Actually it’s more awesome than dangerous. Grace isn’t about what we can get away with. It’s about a person. It’s about a relationship with Jesus that doesn’t depend on how well we’ve behaved today. When we see Jesus for who he really is, we won’t abuse him: we’ll embrace him. God’s grace is awesome because no matter how hard we try, we will still fall short of perfection. But every time we mess up, God’s grace picks us back up and says, “You’re still within my reach.”

  • How have you seen God’s grace continue to pick you up off the ground?

  • Is it possible to try too hard to be perfect? Is perfection the main thing God wants you to seek in life?

  • Do you believe that God has enough grace for all your sin for your entire life? How does your answer affect the way you live?

 
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Day 3

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 1:9)

Read the scripture for today and consider:

  • Is it difficult for you to hear that you do not deserve something—in this case, God’s grace? Why or why not?

At no point during his journey did the prodigal cease being the object of his father’s love. No matter how far he strayed and no matter what he did, he couldn’t make his father stop loving him or looking for him. The same goes for us with our heavenly Father. “Before the beginning of time” God planned out how he was going to show us grace. Grace always has been and always will be his intent for us. His mercies and grace “never cease” (Lamentations 3:22). Like the prodigal son, at times we may try to distance ourselves. We may put up a fight. We may try to live independently of God. But God’s love for us is based on who he is, not on who we are or how we behave. His love is relentless. His grace is compelling. His goodness breaks down our defenses. We did nothing to deserve his love, and we can do nothing to preserve it. We simply respond to it through Jesus.

  • Paul wrote that “God saved us.” From what did he save you? What did you do to deserve salvation?

  • What does it mean to be holy? Should that calling be intimidating for you? How does knowing we have God’s grace affect your call to a holy life?

  • Why do you think grace was God’s plan from the beginning?

Day 4

You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)

Read the scripture for today and consider:

  • How does Jesus’ gift of grace “make you rich”?

Jesus is God, and he existed well before the day he was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb. He was in heaven before time began. He was there at creation, he was worshipped and praised by angels, and he had all of heaven’s riches and glories at his throne. And he gave it all up for us. He became poor by the world’s standards so that we could become rich by heaven’s standards. Remember, “rich” doesn’t just mean having money in the bank or a convertible in the garage. It means rich in grace. Rich in righteousness. Rich in God’s favor. When Jesus died on the cross, he took the punishment for our sins so that we wouldn’t have to. He took our sin upon himself, so much, in fact, that his Father had to look away. But he did it so the Father would never have to look away from us. That is Jesus’ generous grace in a nutshell.

  • Just as the prodigal’s father didn’t consider it beneath him to lift up his robe and run, Jesus did not consider that a life and death on earth were unfit for royalty like him. Is this easy or hard for you to comprehend? Why?

  • Does being a recipient of God’s grace make you feel rich? Why or why not?

  • Why do you think Jesus did all that he did, giving up all that he gave up, for your sake?

 

Day 5

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 niv)

Read the scripture for today and consider:

  • How would you describe the way you approach God and his grace? Is it with confidence?

When Children have done something they know is wrong, parents can usually tell just by their demeanor. If you are a parent, you know this is true. You don’t even have to see the thing that was broken or lost or spilled. You know something is up because suddenly, your kids are unable to approach you with confidence. Normally they ask you to buy them things constantly. They climb all over you and want to wrestle. They want to tell you every detail about their day. But now, they wont make eye contact, they wont talk to you, and they avoid you. Why? because they know they are guilty. Their normal boldness and expectation of favor have been replaced by a sense of impending doom. Here’s the crazy part. You probably aren’t nearly as upset as they think you are. But their false perception creates a very real separation. In today’s passage, the writer of Hebrews calls us to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence.” Don’t run farther away. Don’t settle for feeding pigs. And certainly don’t stoop to eating the pigs’ food. Instead, return to the Father with confidence that his grace continues to increase and that he never stopped loving us or looking out for us. There is nothing he cannot and will not forgive.

  • Have you ever been hesitant to come to God and confess your sin? Why were you slow to approach him?

  • What would it look like for someone to approach God’s throne without confidence? Does that person have a correct understanding of grace?

  • What does it say about the relationship between two people when the wrongdoer can approach the other with confidence and confess? Do you have that relationship with God?