Ephesians 1:3-8 (NLT)
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
This message about grace has been burning in my heart for days now. I jotted down some ideas as I felt the Holy Spirit telling me to look into this thing called grace a little deeper. The original thought that came to me was “what if the grace that I want to receive is directly related to the grace that I give others” and “to whom much is given much is required.” I quickly bustled as I knew this was going to be a difficult teaching that would cut open my own heart exposing the raw contents. I was not exactly sure that I was ready to see all that hid within its walls. When I woke up today, I browsed through my phone to wake up. The quote came up “I give grace because I so desperately need it” by Lysa Terkeurst. Okay, okay – I better study this thing out. So be prepared for a toe-stomper today, or at least it was one for me. I need God’s Grace every single day but how many times in a single day do I withhold grace from other people?
What is grace? Grace is a direct result of God’s Plan to love us forever. He knew that people would rebel so from the beginning of creation had a plan in place to allow His Grace to make it to us. The Grace of God for us is intentional. He planned it. He prepared for it. He provided it freely and willingly at just the right time even though it would cost Him everything to do it. We are God’s Children. This has always been His Plan for us and grace made it happen. So what is grace? It is the unmerited (or unearned) favor and goodwill of Almighty God. Grace is favor, goodwill, kindness, mercy, pardon and friendship. By faith in Jesus Christ alone, we have all these things instantly and completely. So why are they not operating in our life?
Hebrews 12:14-16 (NLT)
Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal.
Over the last few years, our family has been under a tremendous amount of stress and pressure with the ongoing fight our son is engaged in. Cancer can cause a bitter root to grow in the most devout Christian. It is ugly, savage and ruthless. Throughout the process, frustration grows and at some point will find its way out if we do not learn to apply grace in our life. God’s Grace is sufficient for me but only when applied properly. My daughter went to the beach a couple of days ago. I am a skin cancer survivor of over twenty years so the kids know I am adamant about using sunscreen and avoiding sunburns. Although it was obvious that she tried to comply, there were sporadic places on her feet and legs that were burned. She used sunscreen however it was not properly applied. This is a lot like what we do with grace. We want grace. We need God’s Grace every single day and in every situation. This works fabulously when things are going well, but when hard times come we try to use grace as an excuse. Look at the order of words in this passage, first work at living in peace with everyone. Next comes, work at living a holy life. One who grew up in church might think that this statement is mixed up and out of order, but I assure you it is not. God’s Grace should be applied as a sealant or bonding agent in the Body of Christ brings all the members together. It is easy to get caught up in the activities and attitudes of this world that is until we understand grace and learn to live in it. I need more grace so I must give more grace to have it.
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.
“My grace is all that you need.” If we could fully comprehend and grasp this statement using it in our everyday life as it is intended to be, it would change our outcomes forever. The problem is that we get so caught up in our problems and entangled in our mess because we do not believe that God’ Grace is enough for every situation. If God’s Grace is directly connected to His Favor, Goodness, Kindness, Mercy and Love as represented in the great lengths that He went to just to get His Grace to us, then reliance on His Grace should settle every problem that we have on the earth. His Love available by faith in Jesus Christ opens the door of His Grace that we so desperately needed to find our way back home into the Kingdom of God. We walk in His Grace by the way we live each day. Jesus already told us as this scripture confirms that there will be insults, hardships, persecutions and troubles while we are here. But as long as we rely on the Grace of God to get us through no matter how weak we become then we at our strongest.
Case in point: On Wednesday, I joined our son for the consultation for a bone marrow transplant. After a slugfest with insurance, hospital administration and the devil himself – we now have the go ahead to begin what doctors feel will finally get rid of this cancer that keeps coming back. There was no celebration of this approval after months of rejections and denials just a “let’s get on with it” meeting. While I rejoice that God has opened the door to this procedure, it does not change the severity of treatment that is coming. It does lessen the blow that this procedure is life-threatening. It will not shield me in the days ahead as I must watch my son suffer to reclaim his life. Needless to say that after a two-hour consultation of the cold hard facts, I was worn out physically and emotionally. I didn’t know if I wanted to cry or scream. I was mad and sad all at the same time. I could feel myself looking for a target to unleash on. As if scanning the perimeter looking for an enemy or anyone willing to cross my path. It was ironic that these thoughts about grace began stirring the day before or maybe not a coincidence just the God I serve. That night, I had trouble sleeping. The hospital was supposed to call us that evening with a time of arrival for a biopsy the next day. When the call did not come, I set my alarm for 5:00 A.M. sure that they would call the next morning for an afternoon appointment. The call came alright. At 7:20 AM telling my son that he had about fifteen minutes to get there or the procedure would be rescheduled. He made it and so did I. But when I arrived at the hospital, I was ready for war. Someone had forgotten to call the night before which is an honest mistake. When I arrived in the surgical waiting room, there was no one at the reception desk. I am convinced the Lord moved them for their own safety. As I sat there, I began to pray that the Lord would help me calm down. I did not want to shoot the messenger. I mess up all the time and get away with it thanks to His Mercy and Grace. I was so tempted to complain and gripe but something in me kept pulling me back to His Grace. It wasn’t really about the missed call when everything turned out alright, it was my inner struggle with the days ahead. Fear and worry were working me over pretty good. If the Lord had not spoken to me about His Grace the day before surely I would have taken someone’s head off in the moment. It is by faith in Jesus Christ that I am given the Grace of God. What gives me the right to withhold it from others? I don’t have that right. What can I do about it?
Hebrews 4:15-16 (NLT)
This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
Random acts of kindness will prime the pump of our heart to give grace to others. Jesus understands our weaknesses and tailor made grace just for us to fit all the fit gaps in the process. We are set free by the Grace of God to live in freedom. (Romans 6:14-16) It is completely free and undeserved. (Romans 11:6) It is all because of His Wonderful Grace that we have life. (Ephesians 2:4-7) We cannot earn grace it is given to us. (Ephesians 2:8-9) God gives us grace so that we can experience His Glory. He will withhold no good thing from us when we choose to abide in His Grace, Mercy and Love which means giving, as well as receiving. We can come into the Presence of God and He will give us mercy and grace when we need it.
Acts 15:8-11 (NLT)
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 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.”
What gives mankind the right to place a higher price on the Grace of Jesus Christ? When we expect more of others than Jesus expects of us – we fall into judgment. Too many times we expect more of other people than we desire of ourselves. For example, when trying to merge into the other lane we are asking another to give up their right of way and let us in. We are asking for their pardon or grace. When they do, we are elated. But then the next time someone else is trying to do the very same thing – we pretend like we do not see them and move super close to the car ahead. Don’t act all innocent. You can tell a lot about someone by the way that they drive. Maybe you just ran into the grocery store for a couple of things and every single checkout line is backed up with moms pushing carts full of screaming babies and overflowing groceries as you look pleadingly for someone to let you go ahead of them and no one does. You have no right to be mad if you have never allowed someone with only a few items to go ahead of you. We are missing the point as believers. We are called to serve one another and can do so without expectation when all of our faith is in Jesus Christ. Full acceptance of His Glorious Grace allows us to turn the other cheek. It keeps the words “I’m sorry” forever on the edge of our lips to mend broken hearts even when we were not the one who was wrong. God created us to be joined and united as a family of believers, Children of God and members of His Kingdom. How are we doing with that? It is clear to me that I need more grace for others.
You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.
God is full of compassion for His People. By His Grace, we have been given the opportunity to experience it by faith in Jesus Christ. God looks at the human heart and for those who believe He gives us the Holy Spirit. This begins the perfecting process that allows His Goodness, Mercy, Kindness and Love to overflow in us and through us. Some will never know the full measure of salvation because they withhold grace from others. Withholding God’s Love, Mercy, Grace, and Forgiveness from others implies that it is insufficient. It limits the power in our life because of fear and doubt. You will withhold what you fear you might lack. Generosity is a trait of the fearless. Those who are worried or concerned that there is an insufficient supply will hold back but those who believe that He is more than enough do not have a requirement from the world. They are totally free to give their life away knowing His Mercy will be renewed each morning. This passage in Luke begins by pointing to the Father and reminding us that He is full of compassion. There is more than enough. It then goes on to tell us that we are not to judge others, condemn them but to forgive them. It does not place a limitation on this because the Grace of God is limitless for those who have full faith in Jesus Christ. It then says that your gift will be returned to you in full, pressed down, shaken together and running over. You won’t have to fight for it, but it will be poured into your lap. The amount you give determines the return. What is the gift that the Lord is speaking of? It’s certainly not money but it’s His Grace and Glory just like He promised. Grace allows us to live in the Glory of God that includes His Favor, Kindness and Friendship. It is all that you need to prosper in life as you are made complete lacking no good thing in Jesus Christ. So you see I need more grace today…how about you?
2 Timothy 1:9 (NLT)
For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 (NLT)
So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.