Sunday, July 11, 2010

Finding Grace with God

Courtroom judge swinging gavel; image courtesy of artzooks.com
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now I'm found.
I once was blind, but now I see!

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieved!
How precious did that grace appear
the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares...
I have already come.
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far...
and Grace will lead me home.
1

I’m up this morning and my thoughts are of the grace of God. We Christians have to love Ephesians 2:5 because it epitomizes the relationship we have with God.

even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)."2

The New Testament is filled with scriptural passages that speak of God’s grace but it is in the Old Testament that we truly find the demonstration and depth of God’s grace.

In Genesis, we read that God extends grace to his disobedient creation. Adam and Eve realize that even in their own failure, God covers them through grace. Three chapters later, we discover that God repents that He made mankind and He decides to destroy everything He’d created. In the very next verse, Noah discovers grace in eyes of the Lord.

The first time I read this, I thought that somehow Noah was worthy because of something he did; that he was above all men, righteous. I now realize that Noah was just as guilty as the rest of mankind but the grace he found in the eyes of the Lord didn’t just appear for him; that grace always existed in God.

When David put his strength in numbers as a substitution for God, he was given three options for punishment:
  1. Seven years of famine
  2. Pursued by his enemies for three months
  3. Three days of pestilence
David’s response indicates his awareness of God’s grace:

…Let us now fall into the hand of the Lord for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.3

David recognized that He would not find grace in the eyes of man. Speaking for myself, I can look back in my life and see times when I was unforgiving; I can also remember times when I sought mercy. There is a kind of hypocrisy in that kind of thinking; that others should show mercy when I would not. I was watching a documentary about death row inmates and as they awaited the final months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds of their life, each pleaded for mercy; yet when they had opportunity to give grace, they extended none to the victims they murdered.

Why can’t we be merciful? Why must the resolution to my problem often end in me eliminating you? Perhaps God understands that apart from Him, I am incapable of love, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, peace and grace.

Each of us faces some degree of pain, hardship or loss but in that pain, hardship and loss, we find God’s grace; He favors us. To me, this is true love. I can’t earn it, deserve it or demand it; God chooses to give me grace. This pertains to my past, present and future. I don’t fully understand why God chooses to do this when time after time, humanity fails; I fail. But each new day holds the potential that I grasp hold of what holds me.

For in Him we live and move and have our being.4

This (grasping) comes from not just the ability to see but the will to commit. Jesus commands that. The bible says that when Jesus revealed what He required of his disciples, many of them left Him saying,

…This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?5

Jesus would next ask His Twelve if they would also leave.

Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go?6

Because of God’s grace, I’m alive. A blind man can’t see me standing before him but He can look back to see how far God has brought him. The soldier who has lost his legs through the tragedy of war sees the deliverance of God doesn’t require limbs. The woman who feels all alone discovers what a friend she has in Jesus.

We live in a time when it’s easy to give up, give out and give in. You may experience defeat but you don’t have to be defeated. You may be lost but Jesus will help you find the way. You may be discouraged but try letting Jesus encourage you.

Where are you today? Can you see grace in the eyes of the Lord? Is your world about to end? Be like the psalmist and say,

I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.7

And when you look up, you may find yourself saying,

I call on the Lord in my distress and He answers me.8

You’ve turned in every direction looking for your answer; yet, finding none. Why not turn now to God? Look to Him because He is the answer you’ve been looking for.

You do this and you will find grace with God.

Father God, please hear me as I cry out to you. I have nowhere to go, no place to turn to; without you, I am totally lost. Please guide my steps, give order to the chaos of my life. Allow me to begin to experience Your forgiveness and peace. Yes, I want peace with you Lord God, everlasting peace extended to me through your grace. I don’t deserve it, I haven’t earned it, I can’t prove it but You give grace without the condition of my own merit. Thank you Jesus for saving my life. Amen.

Footnotes:
  1. Amazing Grace, Song written by John Newton
  2. Ephesians 2:5, NASB
  3. 2 Samuel 24:13-14, NASB
  4. Acts 17:28, NIV
  5. John 43-66, NIV
  6. John 6:67-69, NIV
  7. Psalm 121:1, NIV
  8. Psalm 120:1, NIV
References:
  1. The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
  2. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6

7 comments:

God's girl said...

This post is perfect timing! Thank you for sharing. It is very easy to want grace but harder to give it. What a great reminder and so well written! Thanks for being used by God!

Blessings, Heaven

(It's great to have ya back!)

Dean Spencer said...

Very well said. I particularly like Peter's response, "Lord, to whom shall we go?"

For me, there is nowhere else. Man can fail us, but God will never fail us.

God bless!

Faith Imagined said...

This is such a wonderfully honest post and I can so relate! You are such a gifted writer! I will be processing your words throughout the day!

Lloyd said...

Thank you so much for this uplifting and inspiring message. I really needed to read this. God's blessings, Lloyd

MTJ said...

Heaven: It's good to be writing again. Although I still face pain and healing, I'm closer to my destination now. I am constantly awed by the immensity of God's grace.

Dean: Like you, I have nowhere else to go, no one else to turn to; Christ is my everlasting answer to every situation in my life.

Alisa: I find inspiration from talented writers such as yourself and others who share their faith in Christ.

Lloyd: I'm thankful that you and I are comrades in the journey of Christian faith. Iron sharpens iron.

sarah said...

great post. and it's all so true. I find when I'm not connected to Him...I can't function. When I am...I can do absolutely anything.

Teresa said...

Beautiful post...the amazing grace of God; O yes how sweet the sound and how sweet that it has touched me in ways I could never comprehend on my own strength! And like you reminded us of Peter's words, "To Whom shall I go?" I have been else where and I have failed them and they have failed me...however, His promise to never leave me nor forsake me is what I hold onto. He never promised that others would not leave me or forsake me; He promised that HE would never leave or forsake me. Thank you for your obedience to write!