Ephesians 2:8-10 (NLT)
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
There is nothing more irate than me when I have to run through the rain. Hair stuck to my head and face. Clothes wringing soaked and clinging to my body. I even hate getting my feet wet. No, it’s true. If the forecast shows storm clouds, I would rather just stay home until it passes. Arming myself with more umbrellas than I can count to insure that I will not be caught off guard, I have umbrellas at home, in my car, at work in my office. I want to know that when that unexpected shower rolls in that I am well covered so I have a hefty reserve. Storms are just a part of life. Since I cannot stop the rain, my defense is a shield that will protect me in the event of a downpour. What is it about the rain and getting wet that is so bad you ask? It is inconvenient and uncomfortable. What does all this have to do with finding grace? God’s Grace is His Mercy that He offers to us so that we will be saved. Those who believe this to be true accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior will be covered by God’s Grace which produces His Glory in our life. This does not mean that storms will not come, trials will not test us, or hardship will not find us. Grace covers us in our shortcomings, so God can wrap us up in His Glory. His Glory is our shield that keeps those inconvenient and uncomfortable things in our life from harming us or wreaking havoc. It allows us to walk through the wind and rain confidently and boldly knowing that we are covered like my trusty supply of umbrellas.
Psalm 84:10-12 (NLT)
A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked. For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, what joy for those who trust in you.
The Grace of God allows us to live in the Presence of God and receive His Glory. The problem is that everyone wants His Grace but have no interest in going after it. For example, let’s pretend a store is giving away free umbrellas. These are no ordinary umbrella but nice big, sturdy, expensive golf umbrellas that are wind proof. These are top of the line umbrellas. First, things first – you are going to have to go to the store to get one. The store is not going to deliver a “free” umbrella to your home. Secondly, why would a store give away free umbrellas? To get you to come into their store and buy some of their other really great stuff. There is a catch. The great thing about God is that He gives us His Grace when we come to Him, and when we choose to live in His Presence – His Glory covers our life and fills it with good things! Absolutely free just because we live with Him where He is! No strings attached. He just wants to live in a covenant relationship with you – His Beloved Child. God gives us His Grace and Glory to fill our life with the good things that He has promised and planned for our life.
At the meeting, after a long discussion, Peter stood and addressed them as follows: “Brothers, you all know that God chose me from among you some time ago to preach to the Gentiles so that they could hear the Good News and believe. God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith. So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers[a] with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”
Many years ago when Apple introduced the first I-Touch product, it became the Christmas sensation. Stores all around our city advertised a limited supply that would be available on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when every goes crazy for Christmas and retailers finally begin to turn a profit. We picked a store and got up in the wee hours to stand in line with all the other crazy people. Now this was before they had begun handing out claim tickets for the most popular items to calm the frenzy, but judging from our place near the door we were certain that we would get a new IPod as planned. Imagine our disappointment to discover that they were all gone the moment we got in. I asked an associate what happened to the supply promised in advertising and she shared with disappointment that a woman walked in taking every single unit from the display. The manager was called to the check-out line when she attempted to purchase all fifty units. He told her that it was only one per customer. She quickly pulled out the sales ad and told him to show her where it said that. The company made a critical error and had omitted the disclaimer that was on every other most coveted item. She was keeping one and selling the other 49 on eBay inviting the angry customers who surrounded her to buy one online later that day. Store security officers had to escort the woman to the car. Thank you Lord that His Grace is sufficient for me. No one can take what belongs to me because my inheritance is secure. I needed grace that morning as my thoughts of such greed made me mad. I share this story because there are a lot of people out there convoluting grace. They take the free, unmerited Favor of Almighty God, repackage it, and tell people you have to earn it for their own gain. How so? Well, it makes you feel better to think that God requires something that you can give to receive because nobody wants to feel like they owe someone. Or worse yet, religion profits from those who feel that they must earn grace. Others read the Word of God putting their own spin on what it is when all along they know that it comes with the option of walking in His Way and receiving His Power and Glory in our life. Nothing is required to have the free and undeserved grace of the Living God. All you must do is enter His Presence and chose to remain their walking in His Way. But like the woman in the store, a lot of folks walk in a try to take grace and then leave God’s Glory behind still wanting to profit from the Kingdom. When faced with the storms of life, such grace is never enough!
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT)
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
You will never experience the true benefits of God’s Grace unless you accept His Glory, too! Grace covers every single sin that we commit. But it does not excuse a life of sin as many try to explain it. The acceptance of grace is repentance which means to turn from. If you do not use the Grace of God to step out of sin and live in the Light of His Love, you will go right back into the hell you were living before you came to Christ. You will spend every weekday fighting other people, the weekend drowning your sorrow in some unworthy source that robs your wallet and numbs your soul, only to wind up in church on Sunday wondering why His Grace is not enough for you. It is enough for you. Sin always separates us from God but it is up to us to continually repent and clear this obstacle from our life with the Blood of Jesus to walk in His Way, know His Word and do His Will. The Holy Spirit is God’s Fighting Force inside of us working in us. But it is His Glory that becomes our shield in the wind and rain so that although the storms of life still come we live in the shadow of His Wings far about the wind and the rain. (Psalm 91:1-3) There is no sin too great for the Grace of God. (Romans 5:17) But if we do not use it to access His Presence and live in the Shadow of His Glory, it is meaningless in our life. Grace does not teach us how to be religious. (Galatians 2:20-21) There is no difference between religiosity and full rebellion both treat the Grace of God as meaningless. Grace broke the power of sin in our life that kept us from living in the Glory of God. It opened the doorway to His Presence and His Spirit prods us to step in. Not for God’s benefit but so that you and I can experience the Favor of God offered through His Amazing Grace.
Romans 6:13-14 (NLT)
Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.
What do you want out of life? If you were truly satisfied with your current conditions, you would not be pursing the Lord as you are! God has given you the Gift of His Grace. Will you use it to access His Glory? God’s Glory is found in His Presence. Jesus is made a way despite our shortcomings and weaknesses that we can boldly come to God’s Throne enter His Presence and request His Glory to cover our life. It is a personal choice for a brand new and better life. But it is a gift that must be received, opened and used. No one is going to make you open a present most of us would tear right into it. Unless, of course, we thought that there might be strings attached or an obligation that we are unwilling to repay. God didn’t give you a long list of do’s and don’ts – religion did. He did not make your life a living hell – rebellion did. He is offering you the Gift of Grace which is filled with kindness, mercy, and favor all according to His Love. God loves you. That is why He wants to save you so that you can have a better life. He wants you to prosper and live in His Abundance. The freedom of God’s Grace allows us to choose to live in the shield of His Great Glory. His Shadow protects us in every storm so that we can experience the sunshine after the rain. It keeps us covered although we may still experience the discomfort and inconvenience of change – it will be worth it!
Titus 2:11-13 (NLT)
For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.
The Grace of God has brought us all salvation. It has opened the door to the Presence of God for all who are willing to leave sin behind. There is enough so that when we fall short it picks us up dusts us off and starts us on our way. His Glory is for those who find His Grace and choose to do something productive with it. Such people are more than willing to leave sin and darkness behind because they have caught a glimpse of His Amazing Love so they desire it enough to leave this world behind. No one can rob you of grace but you can forfeit it. If you do not want it, the Lord will not force it upon you. But those who willingly accept God’s Great Grace will be covered in the Shadow of His Glory! They will have everything they need to prosper now and forever. The Lord will withhold no good thing from them but open His Hand satisfying their every longing. Do you want to be filled? Do you want contentment? Do you long for satisfaction? You have found the Grace of God now use it to live in His Presence covered by His Glory! You do not have to fear the storms of life anymore, you are covered! You will live in this world the brand new life that He has promised with wisdom, righteousness that produces faith and new hope that is born of our devotion to God. Grace was not because He had to. No, my friend, grace is because He wanted to. Living in the Presence of God and under the shadow of His Glory is how we accept and affirm God’s Gift to us. It makes our Father happy! No longer subject to sin, I am freed by grace to live in the Glory of God! Nothing but blue skies ahead!
Titus 3:6-8 (NLT)
He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone.