I Corinthians 3:10-11 (NIV)
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
More grace. It crossed my thoughts yesterday. I put it in the notepad on my phone. It woke me up this morning – the very thought of it rolling around in my head. So God wants to tell me about grace today…more grace to be exact. Grace is commonly referred to as God’s Unmerited Favor. Favor is something done or granted out of goodwill rather than justice. It is not what we deserve. It is excessive kindness and unfair partiality marked by preferential treatment. Favor is a gift of goodwill, kind regard, or love. All of this belongs to us from God through the death of His Son – Jesus Christ. I am familiar with grace. I have experienced the gift of God’s Unmerited Favor in my life time and time again. So why are we coming back to grace today? Why am I compelled to consider acquiring even more grace? His Grace is enough for me. Right?
The New Year is finally here. I am full of anticipation, excitement and yes, even some anxiousness. I have learned that we can feel certain emotions that result in something other than what we expect. Yet the giddiness I feel is matched by a heaviness in my spirit that something “big” is coming. Lord, am I ready? I think I am. I want more of you in the coming year. I want to live radically obedient in full pursuit of Your Word, Will and Way. Recklessly abandoned to the call of Christ but standing on the edge of this “new thing”, I pause. More grace. I hear these words circling in my head.
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder. Now as I continue to build my life, relationship and connection to Jesus Christ, I must continue to build on the foundation of grace and nothing else. Back to the basics? Is that where I am going? When a house is inspected, there is particular attention given to any additions made to the initial construction. Where people have added on sun rooms or closed in garages, anything not part of the original construction. It is important that it ties in to the original foundation. If the owner has done it themselves or cut corners in some way, the addition can actually devalue the home. As believers, we come to Christ just as we are and then attempt to build a life with Him in the midst of human weakness. As we come together, He is pure and unadulterated. We are the ones who come with all the baggage. A connection is made as faith in Jesus becomes the foundation of our life. We must inspect the construction of our life to be sure that it has resulted in a sound structure of faith that leads to righteousness and obedience to develop a firm and secure bond to God through His Son allowing us access to His Kingdom. But we make it so many things that it is not…thus the need for more grace. Christ must be the foundation of our life to live by faith and receive the grace that He offers.
The Provision of Grace
Romans 8:15-21 (NIV)
Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Life is attained through the Grace of Jesus Christ our Lord. Of course. Every Christian knows that but do they know, understand and live under the provision of Grace. One sin committed by a single human being made the death of Jesus absolutely necessary for all of humanity’s salvation. One sin equals death. “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” God’s Provision of Grace to His People covers every sin ever committed. Who is to blame? Does grace end the penalty of sin in our life? No.
Romans 3:21-24 (NIV)
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Sin still carries the same penalty when a lost person or believe commits it. Jesus died for that sin just the same. Sin is never free or without a debt. It is never justifiable. Those who decide to follow Jesus and make Him Lord of their life and love Him with all their heart should absolutely avoid sin at all cost understanding what it cost the Lover of their soul. However, many people trample the most precious gift ever given at the ultimate price. All have sinned. Yes. All have fallen short off the Glory of God. Absolutely. We have been given God’s Grace and Unmerited Favor. It is up to us if we will fully accept this provision that allows us to become righteous.
Grace is free for us and costs us nothing. It gives us the power to attain right standing with God that allows faithful obedience to be rewarded with eternity.
The Process of Grace
James 4:4-10 (NIV)
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Oh Lord, I see where this is going. Tears are welling up in my eyes. I know the process of grace and now God is reminding me of the process of grace. It is promoted in our life by submitting our life to God. Resisting the devil including even the seemingly smallest and insignificant sin. It is coming near to God and allowing Him to come into our heart, mind and life. Washing our hands of all sin and purifying our heart of even the hidden ones. We cannot be double-minded and participate in grace for it is achieve by faith that leads to confidence in the hope we have found. Grieve, mourn and wail for our lack of obedience and the trespasses of others rather comparing our process and progress to others discovering and accepting that we are all in this together pursing grace to its fullest extent. Humility. What have we made of this thing called a relationship? Are we adulterous people who have friended the world becoming traitors to God? Sadly, we are mistaken. We have definitely lost our way. We need more grace to build once again on the foundation of our faith rather than fancy building filled with fake people hawking a God who they do not know, do not want, and have not found. These are harsh words that cut to my soul. We must come back to the heart of our worship – Jesus Christ. Grace got us where we are but we need more to get where we are going.
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NIV)
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Eternity is where we escape our flesh and are finally free of it. Until then it is full of thorns that will reveal our need for more grace. We will try to be faithful and fail. We will work for redemption and lose our way. Each time we fall on our face and collapse in total weakness something wonderfully amazing happens. His Grace is enough. It becomes our life’s sufficiency. You see there really is good in every detail of our life because with each new revelation of God’s Power in our weakness – we become stronger by faith in God and full acceptance of His Grace. It allows us to live in the Favor of God no matter the current state of our existence. This leads to progress in faith by His Grace.
The Progress of Grace
Romans 1:1-6 (NIV)
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
With the revelation of the provision and process of grace, we must now understand how we progress in His Grace. It is simple but not socially acceptable. It is called obedience. Paul lays out the order here in his introduction in Romans. Through Jesus we receive grace AND apostleship to call all people to the obedience that comes from faith. Faithful obedience fully accepts the provision and process of grace. Who is with me? We need more grace to fulfill God’s Call on our life for redemption’s sake. Who is willing to pursue it?
People of Grace
Romans 11:2-6 (NIV)
God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me” And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
I want to be one of those who the Lord identifies as the “remnant chosen by grace”. A remnant or remainder of people who is not of the majority. Elijah said, “I am the only one left.” But the Lord reminded him that 7,000 remained who had not bowed their knee to Baal. There are many other gods that we divide our life up amongst giving the One, True, Living God what is left. I want to be part of those who endure to the end and unite with others who desire to be that remnant chosen and ordained by God. Will it be you too? Do you really want to know the One, True and Living God in 2016? Do you want to submit your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? Seriously. Committed. Forsaking all others. Will you resist the enemy this year? Will you refuse to participate in sin and work diligently to grow the Fruit of the Spirit called self-control? Will you be a light in the darkness rather than contribute to it? Will you come near to God? Will you pray and fast in 2016? For deeper faith, greater knowledge, and to be filled with His Spirit. Do you want to experience the signs, wonders, miracles, restoration, renewal and revival that are possible and inevitable when God’s People unite with one heart and one purpose – Jesus Christ? Will you wash your hands and expose your heart to the washing of His Word every time they get dirty? Will you finally see sin for the death sentence that it is and choose life instead? See 2016 holds promise, it is filled with purpose and potential for every man, woman, boy and girl that gives their heart to Jesus and makes Him Lord of their life. It was there before you chose grace and life over sin and death. You just need more grace to unlock it. More grace. On this New Year’s Eve right before we begin our fast, it is added to the list of my heart’s desire and pursuit of 2016. What about you? Will this be the year of God’s Favor for you and your family? It can be if we just pursue more grace. Will you begin to see the value and worth of your soul’s freedom in the soon and coming King? Yes, when you commit your life to the pursuit of grace.
Romans 12:3-8 (NIV)
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.