Saturday, November 28, 2015

For this I am thankful....

Maybe you have heard the little acronym: GRACE = God's Riches At Christ's Expense.  I think it says it all, doesn't it?  Grace is no piddly gift - it is everything Christ could offer - his very life given for ours.  We also know grace is God's unmerited favor - not deserved, totally unearned, and never able to be purchased by us.  It isn't a "bartered" item - you cannot "talk God into" grace - it is freely given because HE wants to give it, not because of anything we can offer in return.  All of these facts about grace are probably what make it so hard for us to get our brains around grace.  WE don't "get" grace because it is so contrary to everything we have learned in life - we "get" by earning or deserving, right?  God gives without us earning or deserving - totally outside our basis of understanding, right?  The good news is that we don't have to understand GRACE to appreciate the effects of grace in our lives!

I am continuously thanking my God for you when I think about the grace God has offered you in Jesus the Anointed. In this grace, God is enriching every aspect of your lives by gifting you with the right words to say and everything you need to know. (I Corinthians 1:4-5 VOICE)

We can SEE and FEEL the effects of God's grace.  Grace has an impact in our lives which helps us in ways we may not fully understand or come to appreciate while on this earth, but we see evidence of grace all around us.  Grace will live on long after we are gone and grace will impact the lives of countless others who have seen the evidence of the work of grace in our lives - even when we may not think it made any impact!  This is probably what our writer was trying to help us understand - grace is God's way of enriching our lives - every aspect of our being being touched by his "undeserved favor".

Many in the United States are finishing up a week of Thanksgiving, having celebrated friends and family, enjoying countless meals together and consuming way too much turkey, ham, and pieces of pumpkin pie.  The move came again this year, as it has for many years running, to share things and people we are thankful for in our lives - some done publicly over social media, while others were shared around the Thanksgiving meal table.  Football teams were cheered on, their wins celebrated and losses mourned.  Some who were without family to celebrate with were invited into families to enjoy the memories together, laughs were shared, and even a few tears of memories gone by.  

Yes, it has been a week of Thanksgiving - but the one thing I am most thankful for above and beyond all the blessings of family, friends, and provisions galore - the GRACE which works in my life and yours!  Grace enriching every aspect of our lives - gifting us with the right words to say and all the wisdom we need to possess.  Did you catch that?  God's grace has gifted us with all the words we ever need to say - none of us has to worry we won't have the right thing to say when we need to speak up.  God's grace has gifted us with everything we need to know - nothing confounding us when it really matters.  Sure, we may not be able to figure out the 7-letter word in the New York Times crossword on Sunday morning, but when it really matters - God's wisdom is there for us!

The effects of grace are what we come to appreciate in our lives - not that we fully understand how grace "functions" - how it is possible for a God to love so much that he makes a way for sin's penalty to be paid once and for all, and how his loving gaze is first focused on Jesus' blood, making it possible to see us not as sinners, but as redeemed.  We can see the change grace effects in our speech, actions, and even our thought life.  We can see the impact grace makes on how we treat others, and how they have treated us when grace has embraced their lives.  We may not understand giving "freely" because we can only associate giving with getting and that coming with many a string attached, but we can appreciate having received what no one else could ever have given us.  

What are some of the effects of God's grace you have observed in your own life?  Take this moment to outline just a couple of them.  Don't just gloss past this - for his grace has enriched your life in ways you may not stopped to consider in quite some time.  For that enrichment, let us be grateful.  For that free gift, let us be ever thankful.  We may not stop often enough to think about what grace has enriched our lives with, or how it has encompassed us with love too magnificent to fully comprehend, but when we do, we find our hearts overwhelmed with the greatness of God's grace.  This is when Thanksgiving takes on new meaning in our lives - for it is when we truly focus on what makes life full and worth it all!  Just sayin!