Monday, January 3, 2011

By Grace

Ephesians 2: 4-9 NIV
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast."

By the focal point for discussion in these verses.

What is grace? The dictionary lists several definitions of grace. The meanings which apply best to the scripture above are: favour, good will, mercy, temporary relief from an obligation, God's unmerited mercy toward man, and a condition of one who enjoys God's special favour.

When God offers his grace to us he is offering his mercy, his favour, his good will, etc. He is well aware of our sinful nature for nothing we do is hidden from him. Grace isn't his reward to us for our good behaviour or for our good works or for our attitude. It is his gift to us, his exemption from eternal separation from him by believing that Jesus died for our sins and rose again on the third day.

Grace is not earned it is freely given. Grace is not doled out to a select few, but is offered to all who believe in God's gift of Jesus. Grace is God's ultimate gift of love to us who are so unworthy and undeserving of his gift. Grace exemplifies God's love and is extended to us as a favour and mercy. Grace is a heart and head lesson which we need to learn so that we can offer God's grace to others.

Grace is undeserved forgiveness. A forgiveness which erases our sin. Since grace is an undeserved forgiveness it is essential for us to put grace into practice in our own lives and when we deal with others who have hurt us.

Is this offering of grace easy to do when we feel so wounded by someone? No, however by God's grace we can pray and ask him to help us extend his grace to this individual. Bit by bit, as we pray for our enemy God's grace pours out to us, and overflows unto our enemy. The intense emotions slowly begin to disappear as we focus more on God's grace and less on how hurt we have been.

If you do not believe me try it. Jesus commanded us to pray for our enemies. You will be amazed at the changes within yourself as you pray for the one who has hurt you. You will be offering grace.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Wisdom and Enlightenment

Ephesians 1:17-19a (NIV)

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and his incomparably great power for us who believe."

I love Paul's prayer for the people in Ephesus, a prayer that we too can say for ourselves and others, especially for those who do not yet know God and His Son Jesus.

Let's face it we can all use wisdom and enlightenment. If we were to approach every aspect of our lives in prayer, asking God to give us wisdom and enlightenment in every aspect of our lives we probably would not find ourselves in some of our messy situations.

There are of course, many circumstances in life that are not our own doing, but just imagine how different our lives would be if we responded in praying for wisdom and enlightenment. God is working all things out for His good and for His glory. We will not always know why things have happened, only that they have happened and what should we do next?

The people around us, our family, our co-workers, our neighbours and others are watching and waiting to see how we react to whatever life has thrown at us. How do we respond? What do we do? What should be our absolute first reaction when we are experiencing a crisis?

Pray! Pray for wisdom and enlightenment. Pray for God's will to be done in our life. Ask others to pray for God to be glorified in all circumstances. Pray without ceasing....pray continually.

As we pray we also need to thank God for what He is about to do as a result of the crisis. Lives will be changed. Pray for hearts to be open to respond to His call on their heart. Pray for God to help you deal with this overpowering, gut wrenching, painful experience so that you can bring honour and glory to His name.

If you are at the point where you cannot even form a coherent thought...ask God to give you the words, even if you repeat, "Help me Lord," you are giving the situation to Him, for His will to be done so that you can accept all that is to occur.

Have I experienced a crisis or two in my life? Definately! Some of my own making, many that were not. I have learned over the years that the sooner I hand it over to God the sooner I can receive His blessings. How could I be blessed in a crisis? Calm, strength, forgiveness, love, ....are just a few examples of what I have experienced.

How low will you have to go before you surrender your will and your crisis to Him so that you can obtain wisdom and enlightenment?