Grace Giver

When I awoke the other morning, I heard “Grace Giver” whispered in my spirit. I believe Grace Giver is an accurate description of God. He is the giver of grace. Grace is God’s gift to us.

Let’s take time to unwrap the gift of grace. Let’s meditate upon words of scripture and words of prominent Christian authors and speakers.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.

Ephesians 2:8

Grace is the power of the Holy Spirit available to you to do
with ease what you cannot do by striving in your own strength.
Joyce Meyer

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
Ephesians 4:7

But grace is at the center of the life God calls us to—
and reflects the heart of the One who calls.”

John Ortberg

My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.
II Corinthians 12:9

The true definition of “grace is the power of God,
not the unmerited favor of God.”
Bill Johnson

It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace.
Hebrews 13:9

Grace is the empowering presence of God that enables you
to become what He sees when He looks at you.”

Graham Cooke

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

Grace sees potential – potential is more powerful than mistakes.
Grace sees what you can do, not what you have done.
Rev. Robert Reeves

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through
the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

II Peter 1:2

Grace: more than we deserve, more than we can Imagine.”
Max Lucado

(Calligraphy image done by our granddaughter Grace.)

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Shake the Salt from the Salt Shaker

You are the salt of the earth.
Matthew 5:13

If I am salt, I picture myself being composed of little seasoning granules. My body is the salt shaker holding the granules of Christ in me.

As a believer, it is my responsibility to shake and share Christ-crystals upon those around me. In other words, I am to be a witness. In Isaiah 43:10, the Lord declares, “You are My witnesses.” Before Jesus’ ascension, He told His disciples in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” He still says this to me today.

I want to think about how some of the characteristics of salt teach me to be a witness for Christ.

Before refrigeration became available, the chemical compound known as salt was often used as a preservative. If people had eaten improperly stored meat, they could have died from food poisoning. As a believer, God allows me to shake the salt of salvation upon those around me. My salt comes from God’s Word. My saltiness proclaims John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.Proverbs 14:25 says, “A truthful witness saves lives.

Salt is often added to food to enhance flavor. Some people’s taste buds are tantalized by a saltier flavor than others. Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the LORD is good.Reading God’s Word is never bland. However, sometimes one needs a little extra flavor sprinkled upon the written Word. Maybe I can add a little extra saltiness to scripture by sharing how I have applied a specific verse to a personal problem.

I can strive to add flavor by sharing God’s favor. God’s favor is His grace. According to
I Corinthians 15:10, I know that the grace of God is with me. And, I Corinthians 12:9 assures me that God’s grace is sufficient. The presence of God’s favor is part of my tasty testimony. I can assure others that they too can have God’s flavorful favor according to Ephesians 4:7, “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

After eating something extremely salty, like potato chips or peanuts, I want a drink of water. God’s purpose for me as salt is to create a thirst in others for spiritual water. In John 7:37 Jesus says, If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” I desire to shake enough salty Christ-crystals upon others to create a spiritual thirst.

I like the fact that I am salt according to Matthew 5:13. However, I do not want to be a salt shaker that never distributes the salt within me. Colossians 4:6 encourages me to be a witness by saying, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” David says in Psalm 1914,May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” May my words be palatable granules of glory to God and the flavor of favor to those around me.

My Reader, are you salt?  Think about it each time you use a salt shaker.

The Two Sides of a Coin

I am holding a coin of American money in my hand. There are different images on each side. On onside there are imprints stating the coin’s value, our country’s name, and the phrase “In God We Trust.” On the other side, there is either an image of a previous president or a historical building. There are always two sides to a coin.

Now imagine a spiritual coin. Like a monetary coin, the spiritual coin has two sides. One side is mercy and the other side is grace. We do not have images for mercy and grace but we do have definitions. The simplest definitions are: Mercy is not getting what one deserves from God. Grace is getting what one does not deserve from God.

A coin of money is used to pay the price for something purchased. The same is true for a spiritual coin.

Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Death was the wage, or cost, of our sin. Jesus paid the extravagant price of His life by dying upon the cross. He purchased salvation and eternal life for us.

Romans 3:23-24, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” Why was Jesus willing to pay such a high price? The answer is Ephesians 2:4, “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy.” Mercy and grace are gifts purchased by the richness of God’s love. Nothing is free, monetarily or spiritually.

An American money coin is round. The cross is the shape of a spiritual coin.

Jesus paid for our sins on the cross. Consequently, we do not receive what we deserve. This is mercy. Titus 3:5-6, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” Now He offers us a gift we do not deserve – grace. Ephesians 2:8 and 10, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

In Exodus 25, the Lord gave Moses instructions on how to build the ark of the covenant. The lid was called the mercy seat. Annually, a priest would go into the Holy of Holies and sprinkle blood on the mercy seat for atonement. This was where God resided. The writer of Hebrews refers to this when he says in Hebrews 4:16, “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.”

God has given us the coin of mercy and grace. Now, let us extend mercy and grace to others. The coin is in our hands.

Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Luke 6:36 tells us to, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Grace is promised to us in Ephesians 4:7, “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” John 1:16 ESV, “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” God has more than enough grace to meet our every need. I Peter 4:10, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

In conclusion, let’s refer back to our image of the monetary coin. As previously stated, “In God We Trust” is imprinted on our American coins. The same can be said of our spiritual coin. It is only as we trust God that the valuable coin of mercy and grace is available.

 

(Click on images to find the credit for appropriate images.)

 

 

 

 

Grace Notes

open-bible-1

Grace Notes – Music Notes – God’s Notes
I want to take note of these notes today!

Musical grace notes are described as notes of short duration before the sounding of the relatively longer-lasting note that immediately follows these diminutive notes. These notes do not take away from the time value of the primary note that is part of the rhythm and melody line of the musical composition. When I think about musical grace notes, I think of short, quick notes that add embellishment with a flourish to an otherwise ordinary music note. A grace note is like an additional ornament to the melody and harmony of a song.

The Bible has many references to grace. I like to think that these scriptural verses are God’s grace notes to us. If a musical grace note is a quick note before the note that is part of the melody line, then is God’s grace a quick impartation of the awareness of His presence into the flow of my daily activities? God’s grace is a gift embellishing me with His power. I desire for God’s grace is be more than an ornament; I want it be an integral part of my life. I believe God’s grace adds beauty to my life similarly to how a grace note adds beauty to a musical song.

I take note of three definitions of grace.
*The simplest definition of grace is simply God giving us what we do not deserve, His unmerited favor.
* Another definition I like is found in the Life Application Bible and says that grace is God’s voluntary and loving favor given to those He saves.
*My favorite definition is from Don Meares, God’s empowering presence causing us to be whom He created us to be and to do what He has planned for us to do.

My Reader, today I want to send you some personal grace notes written by the Lord. I pray that you will apply these short notes to the rhythm of your life and allow them to add an embellishment to your daily routine.

grace-notes-2Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

grace-notes-2

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith –
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God
Ephesians 2:8

grace-notes-2

For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
For the law was given through Moses;
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

John 1:16-17 ESV

grace-notes-2

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,
after you have suffered a little while,
will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

I Peter 5:10

grace-notes-2

My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
II Corinthians 12:8

Grace Notes – Music Notes – God’s Notes. When John Newton wrote the hymn Amazing Grace, I do not know that he included any grace notes in his composition,  but I do know that his words described how amazed he was regarding God’s grace. I want to conclude my notations about grace with a quote by Alexander Whyte, “Grace, then, is grace,–that is to say, it is sovereign, it is free, it is sure, it is unconditional, and it is everlasting.”

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Garden of Grace

garden-heart

grace-3My Reader, just as you would dig into the dirt of your flower gardens, are you ready to  dig a little deeper into the understanding of how Jesus unlocks the gardens of our hearts? This week we look at the last stanza of the praise chorus entitled The Garden of My Heart. Although the Lord inspired me to write this chorus many years ago, I will admit that I have gained more insight into the meaning of the words through writing these blogs over the last four weeks. I pray our garden times together have been beneficial for you as well.

Jesus, unlock the garden of my heart;
awaken love in me.
I
 want to sit at Your feet, as the great mercy seat,
in the garden of my heart.
I want to laugh; I want to sing;
I want to dance with the King
in the garden of my heart.

Jesus, unlock the garden of my heart;
awaken love in me.
I want to gaze in You eyes, so that faith may arise,
in the garden of my heart.
I want to laugh; I want to sing;
I want to dance with the King
in the garden of my heart.

Jesus, unlock the garden of my heart;
awaken love in me.
I want to feel Your embrace, and receive Your grace,
in the garden of my heart.
I want to laugh; I want to sing;
I want to dance with the King
in the garden of my heart.

Jesus has unlocked the garden of my heart! Now I receive a personal hug of grace! I have the privilege of being embraced by Jesus after I have sat at His feet and gazed into His eyes. There has been a progression of intimacy throughout this song.

My favorite definition of grace says that grace is God’s empowering presence that enables me to be who God created me to be and do what He has planned for me to do. When I choose to embrace God’s desires, He is able to embrace and support and empower me! I must have close contact with the Lord if I am to experience the infusing of His power into my life. There must be close contact, whether physical or spiritual, for a hug to be experienced. Psalm 37:4 ESV says, Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” When I choose to find pleasure in being with the Lord, whether it be sitting at His feet or gazing into His eyes, His desires and my desires mesh together allowing us to embrace.

A shorter definition for grace is simply the word favor. Ephesians 2:8 states, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” When I think about grace as the goodness of God from a positive perspective as expressed in this scripture, it is very appealing to me. However, I am provoked by Ann Voskamp’s comments in her book One Thousand Gifts. She challenges me regarding my willingness to freely receive whatever God gives, whether it feels good or bad. While reading Ann’s words, I begin to realize that God’s grace often comes in the form of His being with me and helping me through difficult situations rather than His immediately resolving my trials in a positive way. I must not pull away from His presence simply because God’s grace is not manifested in the way I might want. I must let go and let God be in control. God is good so I want to yield to Him by relying upon His grace. In the first and second stanzas of this little song, I referred to receiving mercy and faith. Now I see how I need both of these gifts if I am to fully embrace grace in whatever form God chooses.

Looking at the last lines of the song, I proclaim that I want to dance in addition to laughing and singing. I do not merely want to dance, but I want to dance with the King. This is a dance I want to reserve for Jesus who is King of kings and Lord of lords according to Revelation 19:16. With Jesus as my dance partner, I want to follow His lead. I want to go where He goes. I want to move at the pace He moves. Preparing for our dance, Jesus puts His arm around me while I place my hand in His right hand. Psalm 98:1 says, “Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.” As His dance partner, I feel my hand being held by the hand of God described in Psalm 18:16, “The LORD’s right hand is lifted high; the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!” When I am this close to Jesus I can hear His heart beat!

The garden of my heart is now open to feel and hear the heartbeat of Jesus. This is my goal when asking Jesus to unlock the garden of my heart. Love is awakened in me. I John 4:16 assures me that “God is love.” His love allows me to sit at the feet of Jesus at the great mercy seat, and to gaze in His eyes so that faith may arise, and to feel His embrace and receive His grace in the garden of my heart! Now I laugh and sing and dance with the King of kings because of this understanding!

My Reader, I John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” Is your heart an unlocked garden of love?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

 

GRACE – What or Who? (Part 2)

WhatGRACE  Who?

bluebutterfly (MF)

(Part 2)

Last week I blogged about “Grace – Who or What?”  This week I will continue with  “Grace – What or Who?”.  M Reader, if you did not read last week’s post or would like to review what was shared, feel free to check out last week’s post before you continue reading here.

Gbluebutterfly (MF)race What?
Last week I developed my understanding of the definition of grace given by Don Meares.  Let me restate this definition for us this week to refresh our memories. 

Grace is the
empowering presence of God enabling you to be what God has
created you to be and to do what God has called you to do.”

Another explanation of grace that I like is defined by John Bevere in A Heart Ablaze.  He says (p.97),

Grace is His (God’s) bestowed ability to do what His truth demands.
  It empowers us to obey God’s words.” 

 What is God’s bestowed ability?  It is God’s empowering presence!  What does God’s truth demand?  It demands me to be who God created me to be and to do what He has called me to do!  These two definitions fit together perfectly.  I realize that God never asks me to do anything He does not equip me to do.  That is the fulfillment of grace.

 The other important fact about grace that I want to remember from last week is that grace is a gift.  I learned this in Ephesians 2:8:

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith –
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

 Ephesians 4:7NKJV tells me another fact about the gift of grace.  This verse states:

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”

God’s gift of grace to me will differ from the gift of grace He gives to you, my Reader.  God gives each of us just the right amount of His power through His presence needed for each unique experience of life you or I will ever encounter.  In Matthew 28:20, Jesus says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  So, if Jesus is always with me, His presence will always be there to empower me to do what His truth demands.  When my desires are God’s desires, I cannot fail.  Wow!  That gives me confidence! However, my confidence must be in God and not in myself.  I like II Corinthians 12:9 that says,

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

As I continue to search the scriptures for references to grace, I find a warning about how I am to use grace in II Corinthians 6:1,

And working together with Him, we also urge you
not to receive the grace of God in vain.” 

Referring back to A Heart Ablaze, John Bevere further explains that to receive something in vain means not to use something to its full potential. (p. 97)  I certainly do not want to misuse or not use what God has placed within me!  I feel an accountability for God’s graciousness to me.  I not only want to utilize the gift of grace that He has given to me, but I also want to thank Him for this abounding gift that He has bestowed upon me!

bluebutterfly (MF)Grace – Who?
I began this two-part blog about the word spelled “g-r-a-c-e” by referring to two of our granddaughters, Grace Elizabeth and Anna Grace, who claim Grace as part of their names.  I would like to now suggest that, in a spiritual sense, each of us can proclaim Grace as  a part of our name because the Lord offers this gift to everyone. God is no respecter of persons; what He does for one of His children He will for all of us who call upon His name.  My Reader, Grace can be your name. Ask for it, receive it, and thank God for it!

candy 2 mfThe Sweetness of Grace
Again this week I make a comparison between grace and candy.  The giver of a gift of candy may choose to give a different piece of candy to different people.  It does not mean the giver likes one recipient better than another but chooses instead to make each gift similar yet unique according the to need of each individual. The giver of the gift may realize that one person needs more energy so gives that person a bigger piece of candy. The giver may know that another person likes one kind of candy better and would enjoy it more so this influences the kind of gift given.  The giver desires that the gift will not be received in vain, or without any benefit.  In turn, the recipient must remember to be thankful for whatever candy is received because it is a gift.  In relation to grace, have I not previously stressed that grace is a gift to be received?  Have I not commented about how God gives grace uniquely to each person according to the need?  Have I not shown that God bestows the ability to a person to do what His truth, or His Word, demands? Whether it be grace or candy, the giver of the gift should be shown appreciation and the gift should be used properly by the receiver.

My Reader, I close my blog today with the same words to you that John closed the last book of the Bible in Revelation 22:21,

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”

Joyfully,golden apple #2(MF)
Cheryl    

Challenge for this week: Sing the song Amazing Grace and think about the meaning of the words.

GRACE – Who or What? (Part 1)

Who?  GRACE  What?

bluebutterfly (MF)

(Part 1)

We recently celebrated the 12th birthday of our granddaughter Grace Elizabeth.  As we observed this milestone in her life, it gave me the opportunity to think about two different ways in which the word spelled “g-r-a-c-e” can be used.  Let me share my insights with you, my Reader.

bluebutterfly (MF)Grace Who?
Grace: (proper noun) feminine personal name
According to this definition of grace, I think about two of our granddaughters: Grace Elizabeth and Anna Grace.  In recent years Grace has become a popular name for girls.  However, I wonder if these girls understand the spiritual significance of their name.
This question causes me to more deeply explore what “grace” is all about.

bluebutterfly (MF)Grace What?
Grace: (noun) God giving us what we do not deserve
The definition I have just shared with you is one of the simplest, most common biblical definitions for grace.  This is how I personally understood the meaning of grace until about 12 years ago when I listened to a series of teachings on grace by Don Meares. These teachings gave me a much deeper revelation of this spiritual gift offered to me by God.  His definition of grace stated:

Grace is the empowering presence of God enabling
you to be what God has created you to be
and to do what God has called you to do.”

My Reader, please take time with me today to delve into what all these words really mean.

The first phrase tells me that grace is God’s empowering presence. Through grace, God imparts to me His own presence that contains divine power.  Galatians 2:20 tells me that if I am crucified with Christ, I no longer live, but Christ lives in me – that is His presence in me!  Philippians 4:13 tells me that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me – that is His power!  These scriptures help me understand the meaning of the first phrase of this more complex definition of grace.

The next part of Meares’ explanation of grace is that God enables me to be who He created me to be. So, I ask, “Who did God create me to be?”  There are probably many facets to this answer, but I want to consider just one now.  James 4:6 tells me that God gives grace to the humble while He opposes the proud.  I see a direct correlation between grace and humility.  That tells me that being humble is one thing I not only need to be, but also have the ability to be because of God’s enabling presence in my life.  I like that!

Now I proceed to the last part of this definition of grace that proclaims that God enables me to do all He has called me to do. This leads to another question: What has He called me to do?  Ephesians 2:10 tells me that I am created in Christ Jesus to do good works that God has prepared for me.  Hmmm.  I guess I need to know what these specific good works are!  I continue to look in scripture and I find Luke 4:18-19 where Jesus says that the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him and He was anointed to proclaim the good news to the poor.  He was sent to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind.  He was also to set the oppressed free and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.  If these were the works for Jesus, they are also the works for me because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me according to Philippians 4:13. Grace truly is amazing when I ponder all that is included within this word!

My Reader, having just shared a detailed explanation of an in-depth definition of grace, there is one more point I want both you and me to remember.  This fact is that grace is a gift whether we define it with only a few words or with multiple words. Ephesians 2:8 says,

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith –
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

Grace  is not something I can just decide that I want to obtain for myself.  It is a gift from God that I must accept with gratitude and use wisely.

candy MFThe Sweetness of Grace
In conclusion for today, I want to make an analogy between grace and candy. I previously said that grace is a gift.  So, picture yourself receiving a gift of candy.  It is nice to receive it, but you will not truly benefit from it until you unwrap the candy and put it in your mouth.  Then to thoroughly enjoy it, you must chew it and savor its taste. For the full benefit of this candy, you must give it time to be digested into your system and changed into energy that your body can use.  This would be the full intent of the giver of the gift.  Now apply this sequence of actions to grace.  Grace is a gift given to you by God.  According to Ephesians 2:8, you accept this gift by faith – that is by believing and trusting God. He tells you about this gift in scripture, but until you unwrap these verses by faith and apply them to your life, they will not be of benefit to you.  However, as you personally claim and proclaim scriptures that say you are in Christ and Christ is in you, God’s empowering presence will be evident within you.  According to II Corinthians 5:17, you are a new creation in Christ.  You are now who God created you to be! Just as you receive energy from candy, you can receive power from God’s Word.  James 1:22 says that we are not only to be hearers of God’s Word but also doers.  And, going back to Ephesians 2:10, you will then be able to do what He has called you to do.

This is a gift I desire to receive! God’s grace is composed of the presents of His presence and power.  My Reader, I hope you also desire to receive and utilize this gift of grace.  The gift of grace can be just as sweet as a gift of candy.golden apple #2(MF)

Joyfully,
Cheryl

Challenge for this week:  Sing the song Amazing Grace and think about the meaning of the words.