Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (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 kids get a big kick out of whip cream shot straight in their mouth from a can. It gives me great joy to spray it in their mouth. When I pull the can out of the fridge, they flock to me like baby birds waiting on their next meal with mouths wide open. It gives me great joy to make my children laugh and smile. My mother surely would not approve. My gram might even think it unsafe and unsanitary. It’s just what we do. Clearly breaking the rules of food safety and definitely not good etiquette – it brings my children pleasure.

God is a good father. He was a good dad long before Chris Tomlin declared it in song. He created us with great purpose. He provided everything needed to fulfill it. He prepared our life to lead us to it. To perform it requires just one thing. Grace. Grace is all you need. Do you believe that today? To possess the Grace of God allows us complete freedom to live up to God’s Standard rather than making do with life after sin. It is a fresh beginning. It gives our life that new car smell. Giving us the whitewashed appearance of a freshly painted wall, but all we can do is accept it. Like my kids running up to ready to receive a shot of whip cream, God is ready to pour out His Grace in our life.

My grace is all you need. We desire God’s Grace. Once we have it, do we know what to do with it? Grace doesn’t work in our strength, but our weakness. Those times when our humanity gives out, flesh is weak, mind uncertain and soul flailing along is when grace is becomes a seized opportunity. Nobody likes feeling weak and helpless, but everyone wants the fulfillment of God.

When I am weak, I am strong. Today the headlines in Florida are about a family vacationing in Orlando who have experienced a great tragedy. On a secure beach in a resort wading in water only a foot deep, an alligator seized their toddler. The parents fought for their child but the alligator won dragging the baby out into the murky deep. As I read the comments, I notice a trend that has become more commonplace. Public opinion wages war against the parents. Why weren’t you watching him? Why did you go in the water? What’s wrong with you? It’s all your fault. Was it really an alligator? Surely not. Did you lose your child? Really… This is the world in which we live.

When a child fell into a gorilla enclosure, zoo officials felt it in the best interest of the child to kill the animal to save the child. Hard to believe that the world would agonize over such a decision, but it did. Blaming again the “thoughtless” and “careless” mom, she might as well have thrown him over the edge. People tried to reason the gorilla was protecting the child and that surely there must be some other way. The mother has been attacked. The zoo officials crucified. Hey by the way, the child made it out with only minor injuries. But that’s not news… Can we pause for a moment to talk about the real story?

Romans 3:23-24 (NLT) For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

We all make mistakes. Everyone sins. There is no level of transgression greater than the rest. Sin is sin. We needed a Savior and Jesus answered the call. He freed us from the penalty of sin because of His Sacrifice for us. We now have grace. Amazing grace. Grace is what makes me right in God’s Sight so that I can step over the barrier that once kept me from the Lord and live in His Presence. Sin kept us from living God’s Glorious Standard of life but no more. I wonder if knowing what grace really is and how to use it in our life might change the temperature of the church.

My opinion doesn’t matter anymore. I once was quite vocal and opinionated about my political and social views but I find the more I discover the fathoms of God’s Grace the less being right compares to being righteous. I have read and studied God’s Word. I know the sin and weakness that challenges me and the ones that I have overcome. There are still many issues for my Lord to deal with. So much so, that I have no time to condemn others for their short comings. Grace does not afford me the opportunity to sit back resting on my laurels but presses me to express this wonderful gift to others as it builds within me.

Whip cream in a can is heavy cream mixed with nitrous oxide under pressure. Once it leaves the can, the nitrous oxide dissolves and it becomes all foamy. Grace works best under pressure, too. It is not meant to sit inside of us but be expressed. People prefer comfort over such things. When hard times come, they force us to rely on God’s Grace. As we continue to endure hardship, we are molded and shaped into the person that God created us to be and set free to do what He planned by His Grace. Grace is the benefit that releases blessing in our life. It is much more effective when it is expressed from our life rather than sitting inside of us under intense pressure for release.

Acts 15:7-11 (NLT)  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 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.”

There have been many articles this time of year (summer) about parents leaving small children in the car who have succumb to the heat. I don’t understand this. How could you forget your child? Just because I do not understand and cannot comprehend makes me no less capable of it. Thankfully, this has not happened to me. Oh wait, maybe when I think about it I have forgotten a child at church before. Driving two cars, I thought my husband him and he thought I did…that is until the children’s pastor called to see if we wanted him back. Through my inability to be perfect, I no longer feel compelled to know what happened in the midst of the unthinkable and shocking. Instead, it is a time to pray for those people who have lost everything in one mistake or missed detailed. Isn’t that what most tragedies are … a mistake? Missed moment? Error? Momentary lapse? Caught off guard? What makes us as believers think that when we sin against God or just fall short it is any less of an offense than those who ignorantly do so? I know the Love of God. It is my love for Him that challenges me to live an obedient and surrendered life. I am only human. I am not perfect. To be righteous doesn’t mean never falling down but using His Grace to get back up. I need God’s Grace just as much as you do. I fail…a lot.

God chooses us. We do not choose God. We choose His Grace. Grace or no grace – this is the deciding factor in our life. God knows our hearts. He gives us the Holy Spirit to work through our life and make it productive. Endurance is required because this is not an overnight process. But isn’t that what we want people to believe? We don’t want them to know of our struggles. Hiding the sin that plagues us. Rather than allowing the Lord to take the details of our life and make good of them, we hide them in shame rather than subjecting them to grace. Or is it public opinion or religious contempt that keep us hidden in guilt and shame? His Grace is sufficient for you. His Grace is enough for me.

Religion is keen on its rules and regulations. These are meaningless. Without God’s Grace in me and flowing out of me, nothing that “I do” is worthy of His Kingdom. It is just service that makes me feel better about myself. The only distinction between me and another is the Grace of God. Outside of grace, we are the same. Human beings condemned by sin and controlled by our circumstances. Until everyone sees grace as undeserved and unearned, do we really have grace at all?

Galatians 2:19-21 (NLT) For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

God’s Grace in our life must not be treated as meaningless. When a standard other than God’s Amazing Grace is mandated it is not of God but rather challenges Him. To establish additional measures to right standing with the Lord is to challenge His Power and Authority in our life. The things done for the Kingdom should be a product of grace. Grace is freedom. It cannot be enforced. It is given to each surrendered area of life given to the Gospel of Love. Grace empowers the hidden gifts established in our creation, dead from sin, and now resurrected to new life. (Romans 12:6-18) Grace releases God’s Favor. (I Corinthians 15:10-11) Grace is not permission but grace is power. (Romans 6:1-6) God’s Grace is total dependency on who He is and what the Lord has not with no help or assistance from me. I must be dependent on God’s Grace to live a successful sanctified life. (2 Corinthians 1:12)

God’s Grace is the Gospel that believers are destined to preach. It is all about the Love of God. It has nothing to do with our past or future other than total acceptance and dependence on Jesus Christ. Grace is the very thing that the Lord called us to. (Galatians 1:15) The standard of living a believer is called His Amazing Grace. (Galatians 5:4) Grace is meaningless to us if we feel we must do certain things “for” God or fear retribution in our weakness. God’s Grace is sufficient. It is enough for us. I cannot take any credit for the work being completed in my life by the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 2:8) It is grace that allows us to come to God boldly where upon arrival it is more grace that we are given. (Hebrews 4:16) The abundance of God for my life is His Grace everything else has been predetermined. The strength of my life is completely dependent on God’s Amazing Grace.

We must be very careful that the favor of God in our life does not produce pride and arrogance. Remaining focused on the Love of God, Sacrifice of Jesus and abundance of the Lord’s Grace is essential to not become religious and opinionated. The Lord promises an abundance of Grace to the humble. (James 4:6) Lord, is that me today? Is my life a conduit of your Love and Grace for others?

Acts 20:24 (NLT) But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

At an ice cream social at church, I couldn’t help myself so I grabbed a can of whip cream offering it to my kids. They expect it whenever they see the cold can on the fridge shelf or even more so in my hand. When I shot it in their mouths, they squealed with laughter. Other kids from the youth group gathered around to join in the fun. They couldn’t believe that a “mom” would do such a crazy thing. I continued my mission of joy until the can was empty. This morning as I contemplate the grace that I have been given and my faithfulness in sharing it, this image comes to my mind. I did not think twice about allowing each child to participate even some parents did. What if we approached life with a heart full of grace and love for others? What if the opinion of our life didn’t really matter only the Message of Gospel which is truth? What if instead of condemning the mistakes of others I covered them with the amazing grace that I have been given time and time again. I wonder what might happen in our churches, homes and workplaces if the Christian message, believer’s faith and every action were the result of God’s Grace being expressed in our life. We would find purpose. We would live in God’s Favor. Our life would be fulfilled. Rich satisfaction would overtake us. Rather being yoked to religion – we would be yoked directly to Jesus Christ bound tightly to Him by His Grace. It will always be enough for me!

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.

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