Grace

Good morning. It is Friday, May 22, 2015. There’s only a 40% chance of rain today.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is nepotism. This noun is usually used in connection with hiring, and means, “favoritism (as in appointment to a job) based on kinship.” Some companies strictly prohibit it, others embrace it.

Today is Don’t Fry Day. Get it?? You might think this has something to do with eating fried foods, but you would be mistaken. It is actually a day to raise awareness of the dangers of skin cancer from too much sun-bathing.

Christi’s Huddle was cancelled, last night, so we had our usual Thursday dinner (our own concoction that we call “Mexican soup”), and got caught up on one of our new favorite TV shows, “Battle Creek.” We talked a lot, during watching, which was nice. For me, I’m trying to suss out what I’m feeling emotionally, because, I’m at a point where I don’t know what I want, any more. Again, I realize that this is a normal piece of the grieving process, so I’m not panicking, just trying to verbalize it and work through it. I won’t belabor it, either, because I know that people will get weary of it.

The weekend is near! I’m not sure what we will do on Sunday. Thunderstorms are predicted again, so anything outdoors is probably off the table. Monday, as I have said before, we will be traveling to Mineral Wells to spend Memorial Day with my mother. Who knows what kind of “trouble” we will get into? I know one thing: I am really looking forward to this three-day weekend.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David, when Saul sent men to watch his house in order to kill him. Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; protect me from those who rise up against me;
deliver me from those who work evil, and save me from bloodthirsty men.
For behold, they lie in wait for my life; fierce men stir up strife against me. For no transgression or sin of mine, O LORD,
for no fault of mine, they run and make ready. Awake, come to meet me, and see!
You, LORD God of hosts, are God of Israel. Rouse yourself to punish all the nations; spare none of those who treacherously plot evil. Selah.
Each evening they come back, howling like dogs and prowling about the city.
There they are, bellowing with their mouths with swords in their lips— for “Who,” they think, “will hear us?”
But you, O LORD, laugh at them; you hold all the nations in derision.
O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress.
My God in his steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.
Kill them not, lest my people forget; make them totter by your power and bring them down, O Lord, our shield!
For the sin of their mouths, the words of their lips, let them be trapped in their pride. For the cursing and lies that they utter,
consume them in wrath; consume them till they are no more, that they may know that God rules over Jacob to the ends of the earth. Selah.
Each evening they come back, howling like dogs and prowling about the city.
They wander about for food and growl if they do not get their fill.
But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.
O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.

Psalm 59

(From Knowing Jesus)

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:1-10

Today’s reading is “Jesus, Showcase of God’s Grace.”

We all know what it is like to receive grace. Perhaps it is the grace allowed on a bill payment, giving you extra time. Or maybe when we were in college, we got extra time to turn in a research paper (which is really a good example of grace, because the due dates are given weeks, if not months, in advance).

“The central theme of the Bible proves conclusively that all of us need grace from God.” None of us has ever achieved the holiness required by God. None of us would ever be “fit to stand in his presence and claim righteousness.” We all fail; none of us does good all of the time, and quite often do just the opposite. “We have been selfish, unkind, pushy, lustful, and greedy–if not worse.” And that’s just in the last fifteen minutes!

But God . . . Ephesians 2:4. I think those are my two favorite words in all of Scripture! But God . . . “God did something to bail us out of our predicament.” God has every right to condemn us, but he offers grace and forgiveness. During this “grace period,” we have the opportunity to say yes to Jesus.

But in order to fully accomplish this, we must say no “to all other efforts to please God and gain his favor.” We must realize that we cannot do anything to gain God’s favor! It’s either Jesus, or it’s nothing.

“Jesus proves God’s grace. When we focus on Jesus, we lose sight of our impoverished, sickly, insulting ways of trying to earn credit with God. When we focus on Jesus, we confess that even our pious thoughts and deeds–our churchy religion–fall far short of making it with God.”

Jesus, being the grace of God in action, paved the way for us, the way to forgiveness and eternal life. “His grace smashes our pride.”

This grace not only forgives us, but it also prepares us for heaven (being the only way we can be “good enough”), and enables us to “represent him on earth.” We are his workmanship, as Paul says in verse 10.

There is a danger, though, in the pride that believes that we could possibly add something to this grace. We still keep thinking that we can gain favor with God. But we must embrace the truth that there is nothing that we can do that can cause God to love us any more than he already does. Neither is there anything that we can do to make him love us less. Even in the depths of our deepest, darkest sin, when God looks at us, he feels only love!

God told Paul that, “My grace is sufficient.” We need grace for salvation; we need grace for our pain and afflictions; we need grace for life. And we that grace in Jesus Christ.

Father, I praise you for grace! How well I know this grace! But yet, I still, sometimes, fall into the trap of a works mindset, thinking that I can somehow either repay you, or at least make you happy with me, by doing something “good.” I forget that the “good works” that you have prepared for me are just that . . . works that YOU prepared, and that you enabled me to do. In fact, you are the one who is actually “working!” Let me never think that I can add anything to the great grace that you have lavished on me. As the title of this blog suggests, let me revel in that grace, Lord. Let me bask in it, and let it feed me, nourish me, heal me, and cleanse me! I celebrate your grace today!

I pray for our day, Father, that we would have safe passage to and from work. Give us just enough grace and mercy for this day, that we might be true representatives of your Kingdom in our work places. I pray for Stephanie, Father, that you would touch her with your healing hand and remove whatever is making her not feel well. I pray that you would draw Rachel and Justin closer to you, and that you would continue holding up my mother. Thank you for the wonderful friends that she has through her church. I also pray for the people of FBC in Mineral Wells, as they begin the painstaking process of rebuilding what the tornado destroyed. Your grace is sufficient for them, as well.

We all need grace. We need it for everything. Those who are in Christ Jesus possess all the grace they need, every day, every minute.

Grace and peace, friends.

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