Three words define the life of every Christian. In the pilgrimage of life, every true Christian experiences guilt, grace and gratitude. Those three words, along with their counterparts of sin, salvation and service are often used to summarize the Heidelberg Catechism, but they also summarize the struggles and joys that every Christian experiences.
We all experience guilt because we are all sinners. The dark cloud of our sin, especially recurring sin, drains us of our joy and pierces us with the reality of how dark our hearts really are. But against that dark and stormy background of sin, we see the brilliance of God’s grace. Through saving faith in Christ, we realize that our sin is covered by His precious blood, and amazingly, we see that Christ imputes – credits – His perfect record of righteous obedience to the life of everyone, who by His grace has true saving faith in Him alone.
The knowledge of God’s saving grace in Christ Jesus leads inevitably to gratitude. If you and I truly see ourselves as guilty sinners, yet realize with clarity that, “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8), we cannot help but be deeply grateful! Our gratitude leads us to works of service as we endeavour to walk in the good deeds ordained for us (Ephesians 2:10), not to earn our salvation, but to reflect our Saviour and that we are profoundly grateful for what He has done.
This month, as we open the Scriptures and see our guilt and God’s grace, may we truly be filled with gratitude, eager to joyfully serve our gracious God, now and forevermore!
The best day of the week
“How lovely is Your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!” – Psalm 84:1
Scripture reading: Psalm 84:1-12
Arriving home is such a good feeling. Perhaps you have been gone on business, or had a hard day at work, or even a week or two of vacation. As you get close to your home, you have that anticipation of how great it will be just to be home.
In this Psalm, we read of the same joyful anticipation of arriving home. We are all on a pilgrimage. We are just passing through this world. The world holds so much trouble and conflict. We need strength to continue on the path, steep and narrow, that leads to our heavenly home.
Where do we gain that strength? Verse 5 reminds us that our strength is from the LORD and verse 7 describes how we “go from strength to strength.” On Sunday, as we gather with brothers and sisters in Christ, we are faced with our weakness on the one hand, as we see our sin in the light of God’s law. But we also see God’s glorious grace in the gospel and we are strengthened!
Through the faithful preaching of God’s Word, we are not only strengthened, but given great joy as we sing praises to our God. In the words of verse 2, our “heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.” It is no wonder that the Psalmist, as he exalts in joyous praise to the LORD, exclaims, “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.”
May that be your experience and mine, this Sunday and always!
Suggestions for prayer
Pray for your local church and the church universal. Pray for your pastor and his family as well as the elders, deacons and congregation. Pray for faithful seminaries to train another generation of ministers who will boldly preach the whole counsel of God.
Pastor Ted Gray is a retired minister in the United Reformed Church of North America. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.