Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Defining Grace

How do we define grace?
How do you define grace?

Given it much thought?

Here are some ways I've heard it defined -

~ undeserved favor
~ divine love and protection bestowed freely upon mankind
~ the power to change
~ forgiving, forgetting, restoring, transforming and consuming
~ God's Riches At Christ's Expense

These are just a few of the definitions I've heard or read over the years.  Truthfully, I feel I am in way over my head in trying to define it myself.

The Greek word for grace is charis, which is defined as divine influence upon the heart, favor, gift, joy.  This word charis is from the Greek word chairo which encompasses our English words calmly, happy or well off; glad; rejoice.

I'm not surprised that this word grace is explained by the word joy.
What joy springs up in my heart when I am the recipient of His grace.

The ways in which I've received God's grace over the years are absolutely astounding, overwhelming and almost incomprehensible.

He shows up - all the time!
When I am at my lowest, He shows up!
When I want to give up, He shows up!
When I feel the most condemned, He shows up!
When I'm desperately in need of His love, He shows up!

His grace never fails.

Paul said, 
"But by the grace of God, I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain;"
1 Corinthians 15:10a

His grace was poured out and is being poured out, not just for our salvation, but for our sanctification.  It is being poured out as gifts that He bestows - just because of His love.

Diana Kriesel, in her book, Grace Like Rain says this:

"God's grace overpowers us, enables us, forgives us, is a result of His love, and is something we don't deserve.  God's grace is so incredible; words are elusive in describing it.  Grace is all about Jesus. It's about Him, because of Him, from Him, and through Him.  Too often, we limit our understanding of grace by assuming that it has only one purpose - our salvation. If the only work of grace would have been to save each of us from the hell we ultimately deserved, I would be eternally grateful.  But it is so much greater, deeper, richer, and stronger.  Grace is not cheap; in fact it is a gift from God that came at an indescribable price  Let's take grace out of its box.  Let's allow God to expose every part of our lives to His amazing, transforming gift called grace."

John tells us, 
"And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.  From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.  For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." 
 John 1:14, 16, 17

Grace came to us in the form of Jesus and as He dwells with us and in us, His grace continues to minister to us in all ways.

So, when I talk about Grace-Needs, I'm talking about all that He wants to make available to us, all that He wants to pour out to us in the form of blessing upon blessing in response to our need for His grace.

My first step in receiving this grace is to recognize that I have need of it.

In my Grace-Needs Journal this morning, I wrote this -

36 - I need grace to move through all that's on my agenda today
39 - I need grace not to hurry my heart because hurry hurts
40 - I need grace to be mindful of all I have asked grace for

Later, as I was preparing my body and my face to greet the outside world, I began to feel pinched for time and started rushing through fixing my hair.  As I began to hurry, the hairbrush fell from my hands onto the floor and I started grumbling.  A soft whisper of the Holy Spirit said - "you have grace for this" and I was reminded that I had prayed for the grace not to hurry.  Immediately, my heart was quieted, my body relaxed and I knew the grace was mine.  I can't define what happened in my heart at that moment, but it changed.  It relaxed!  And I was on time!

I need His grace every minute of my day!
There is nothing on my agenda that can not benefit from His grace!
When I'm aware of that and call upon that grace, He is there!

Now, please hear me.  
I am not talking about a magic word here.  
This is not a formulaic equation that works because I work it right.

This is favor that God pours out because of His love.

Paul said God's grace was not bestowed upon him in vain.

Lord, may that be my goal, too.
May I always see my need for His grace.
May I be willing to appropriate His grace as I endeavor to walk worthy of His calling that others may see the evidence of His grace poured out!

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