That conversation took place a day after our niece, Grace, was killed in an accident and J.D. was right, I heard that word much more often now. The songs haven't changed, nor has my pastor's preaching or the words in my Bible, but my awareness has.
I've sang "Amazing Grace", listened to sermons about grace and memorized verses with the word grace and if I had to guess I'm sure you've sang about, heard about it and appreciated grace as well. Am I right? It's a common word in the Christian culture, but is it one we understand?
I think we all do to a degree, but like everything with God there's always more we can learn and understand. Over the last 60 days, I have been listening better and studying more...Grace is a broad topic and the more I study sometimes it feels the more I have to learn. I promise this post won't cover it all, so let's start with the basics...
The definition of grace is - the free and unmerited favor of God. Grace is something we cannot earn and do not deserve. Ephesians 2:8-9 sum it up quite well, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." To keep things simple, grace is a gift.
A couple of weeks back, I spoke with some elementary kids at AWANA's and as I described and tried to define grace I had a volunteer come forward. I gave the child a small wrapped package. The kids were excited...who doesn't like a present right?
We talked about presents - how they are fun to receive, how we look forward to them and how we don't have to earn them. After a short conversation, I turned the focus back to my volunteer and the wrapped package. I said, "We can be excited about a gift, but right now she doesn't even know what this present is, it's really not doing her much good. What does she need to do?" In unison the whole room shouted, "Open it!"
My volunteer unwrapped the package to find a note card with the Ephesians verse you read earlier. We went on to talk about God's grace that saves us...a grace many of us know about, sing about and learn about, but just like the wrapped present that's not enough. We have to receive the gift God wants to give, open it and use it or apply it to our lives.
Friend, perhaps you have received the gift of God's grace in relation to salvation. Maybe you have accepted His Son as Lord and Savior, but grace is so much bigger than that. God's grace is multi-dimensional and affects many areas of our lives and faith. It saves us and sustains us. It comforts and connects us. It convicts and cleanses us. It fills us and equips us. It tells us much about the God we love and helps us serve Him too.
Grace is something we receive when we accept Jesus, but friend it's also a gift we need to unwrap everyday, actually every moment. We need God's grace when we're tired, when we're scared, when we're broken, when we're repentant, when we're empty, when we're...you fill in the blank.
2 Corinthinas 12:9 says, "My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness." God's grace is enough. He will give us what we need. 2 Corinthians 9:8 tells us, "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work."
This grace is not some magic pill that will make problems disappear and pain cease, but it offers hope and provides peace that surpasses all understanding. Even when times are tough and life is hard. God's grace helps us take the next step and the next one after that. God's grace helps when we miss our Grace.
We're grateful Grace opened the gift of grace and now as we grieve we're thankful God keeps blessing us with the gift of His amazing grace as well.
Friend, today I challenge you to open the gift He wants to give - GRACE! Perhaps it's His saving grace; if so, open your heart and let Him come in. Maybe you're feeling weak and are in need of His sustaining grace. Perhaps you need wisdom and should spend some time approaching His throne of grace. Whatever we need, He can provide, but we must receive.
Once we receive the gift, let's share it with others. Today let's commit to being graceful towards others...maybe they don't deserve a kind word, offer it anyway. Perhaps they did nothing to deserve a special meal, serve it anyway. When we remember the grace God's poured out on us, it's easier to do the same for others.
Finally, if you're a Mom what's one of the first things you taught your kids in regards to gifts? I'm guessing, "Say thank you!" was at the top of the list. Friend, let's not take God's grace for granted...though we don't completely understand it and will never fully comprehend it, let's thank Him for it!!
May grace and peace
be multiplied to you
in the knowledge of God
and of Jesus our Lord.
2 Peter 1:2