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Today's Devotion (Monday, Nov 24)

Day By Day By Grace - Bob Hoekstra (DBD)

Once More on Exceedingly Abundant Grace for Transformation

"And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:12-14)"
Before Paul believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, he spoke evil of Jesus, oppressed His followers, and exalted himself. "I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man." Yet, God called Paul from this ungodly religious life and made him a faithful, fruitful servant of the Lord. Once more we will see this can only happen by exceedingly abundant grace for transformation.

This magnificent transformation process began with mercy, the necessary companion of grace. God's mercy holds back the awful consequences that our ungodliness deserves. God's grace brings us the wonderful blessings of godliness that we could never deserve. God was merciful toward Paul's ignorant and unbelieving behavior. "But I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." The ministry of grace that God would eventually give to Paul (as well as any ministry God has for us) was established upon mercy. "Therefore, since we have this ministry [new covenant grace—2 Corinthians 3:6], as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart" (2 Corinthians 4:1). God chose Paul to be a distinctive example of His rich mercy. "For this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life" (1 Timothy 1:16).

This grand project of transformation then proceeded with grace. "And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus." This bountiful grace brought two spiritual blessings (faith and love) that would be essential for Paul's ministry. Paul had been a man of religious works and self-righteousness. God turned him into a man of faith. "The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith'" (Romans 1:17). He had been a man of cruel hatred and religious prejudice. God turned him into a man of love. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love" (Galatians 5:6).
"O Lord of rich mercy and exceedingly abundant grace, I worship You. I thank You for mercifully holding back the judgment I deserved. I praise You for graciously bringing to me wonderful blessings that I could never deserve. Now, by Your bountiful grace, please work in my heart more faith and love, that I might serve and honor You more effectively. In Your mighty name I pray, Amen."