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.

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But God!!!

But God!                  But God!                   But God!                   But God
  

                  But God!                  But God!                   But God!

My Reader, what comes to your mind when you hear the phrase But God that I used in the title of my blog for today?  It can be taken as an argumentative phrase or a phrase of exaltation.  I will have to admit that I have used these words from both perspectives.  Let me explain.

When I am facing a challenge or a difficult situation, one of the things I like to do is to find a few scripture verses to claim during this time of turmoil.  However, I sometimes have trouble fully standing on God’s Word.  For example, Matthew 7:7&8 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” So, I ask, seek and knock being fully aware that God is hearing my requests.  However, I do not stop with just these words.  I add, but God I really want an answer now!  I want clear direction for what I am to do.  Why am I not hearing from You?”  Another verse I might claim is Psalm 56:11, “In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?”Hear how I might respond, “Yes, God, according to Psalm 56:11, I am trusting You and I do not want to be afraid, but God this situation is different and I am afraid! Show me that I can trust You by answering my prayer in a positive way now!”  I believe, and yet there is an element of unbelief.  I read James 1:6-8 which says, “ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.  For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”  Hmmm.  I don’t want to be double-minded, so what can I do?  I find another scripture where I identify with the man who cried out to Jesus saying in Mark 9:24, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” As I ask the Lord to help my unbelief, I discover that I am able to remove the phrase but God from my vocabulary and I am able to ask, seek and knock with a trusting attitude and not be fearful.  For me, but God is no longer an argumentative phrase but is now a phrase of exaltation unto the Lord.

How can but Godbecome a phrase of exaltation?  To answer my own question, I turn to the story in Genesis 37-50 of Joseph and how he was treated by his brothers.  Summarizing the events of his life, Joseph concludes by telling his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Joseph was a man of great faith who was able to comprehend how God worked in both the good and the bad experiences of his life. Paul later confirms this attitude of faith when he says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

I have a friend who has a wonderful testimony about how God has worked in her life and she often uses the phrase but Godwhen relating her story.  Shortly after she and her husband moved to a different state, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She did not know anyone with breast cancer at that time.  Her treatment included a double mastectomy, a second surgery, and 8 chemo treatments followed by 5 years of chemo drugs.  I now quote her, “But God ….intended it for GOOD: Thus ‘Women Of Hope’ Cancer Support Group was started about 7 years ago.”  She also told me of the death of her twin brother when they were only 46 years old.  Again I quote her, “But God…..intended it for GOOD: God called me into AIDS Ministry. I started a grief support group for mothers in my home for 9 years. Where else could mothers go to weep & talk about their sons & daughters in the late 1980’s? Thus, I was an AIDS spokeswoman for 12 years. Our GOD is Good & Faithful! He took me through these dark nights.”

After reading God’s Word and hearing my friend’s personal testimony, how can I not exclaimBut God!” in a positive tone?  How can I even think of arguing with God by assuming I have any right to ask, But God? My faith is strengthened and, at least at this moment, I proclaim and identify with Job 42:1, “I know that you (the Lord) can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.”

How about you, my Reader? Do the same feelings arise in you now that you had when you first read But God as the title of my blog?golden apple #2(MF)

Joyfully,
Cheryl

Challenge for the week:  Exalt the Lord at least one time this week by using the phrase But God in a positive way during a conversation with a friend.

                 But God!                 But God!                 But God!

But God!                          But God!                But God!                 But God!