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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

No longer hope-less

11 For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. 12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, 13 while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. 14 He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds. (Titus 2:11-14 NLT)

Grace came in the form of a person, not just some mythical action bestowed by some "power in the sky", but in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. I often wondered why Old Testament faith was devoid of the evidence of grace so many times - as the actions of sacrifices and feast days had to be constantly repeated. Faith was there, yes, but grace seemed to be kind of missing. Grace isn't a "thing", it is a relationship. If that is the case, then is it possible that every other relationship we could have in this world might just be made better when the person of Grace begins to be the foundation within those relationships?

Grace requires some actions on our part, although we don't earn grace, nor do we gain salvation on our own merit. Grace requires obedience to the revealed truth within God's Word and as evidenced by the agreement of our conscience with the teachings of Christ. Obedience comes in the form of "turning from" and "living in". We turn from godless living - or should we say living so as to reveal we believe ourselves to be the god of our universe? It requires us making a conscious choice to walk away from sinful pleasures - not just those that are easy to give up, but those which have been our hurts and hang ups for quite some time.

Grace gives us four tools: Wisdom, Righteousness, Devotion, and Hope. Wisdom is the ability to take knowledge and turn it into action - not just any random action, but action that is God-centered, revealing his love and unmerited favor. It is the ability to not just "know" but to "show" the reality of grace's effect in our lives. This is learning to live in righteousness - taking right steps not because we "have to", but because nothing brings us more pleasure or peace than to do so. Devotion to God is really saying we take self out of the center of our lives and we place him squarely in the middle of our muddle. That may not seem significant, but when it comes to relationship with others, the muddle just gets deeper and deeper until Christ is the one binding us together.

In all this, grace gives us one final tool - hope. As we begin to take what we know, allowing to effect what we show, getting God at the center of all we do and say, we begin to see things a little differently. We don't see things as hopeless, but has hope-filled - because where God's Spirit is allowed access, there is hope greater than any problem. Our pastor spoke of us getting to know how wide, how long, how high, and how deep God's love is for us. That love that revealed to us grace, continues to reveal grace within us - when we place our hope in him, even in what the world would label as hopeless. In Christ, there is no such thing as "less" then grace fills. Just sayin!