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I have been thinking a lot about grace lately. Trying to wrap my mind, my heart and my spirit around grace. On one level, "grace" is such a religious word.
On another level, grace is an embrace of the most intimate kind.
God's grace is the most extravagant, yet most needed gift I have ever been offered.
I need grace. I am in desperate want of that which is offered to me so lavishly, so generously, so graciously.
If you want to know what grace is, read John 15:16: "You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that the Father may give you whatever you ask Him in My name" (John 15:16).
Grace is what God gives to flawed, broken and sinful people.
The Bible richly describes the grace that has been given to us:
"The surpassing riches of His grace" (see Eph. 2:7b).
"The riches of His grace which He lavished on us" (see Eph. 1:7b-8a).
"To the praise of the glory of His grace" (Eph. 1:6b).
These phrases are so poignantly beautiful that my heart aches with unseen joy.
Grace is for me. I don't deserve it. I did nothing to earn it. And yet He gives it.
God has been thinking about you since before the foundation of the world. He was planning for all of history past to roll out the red carpet for your life and for all you would become.
But there was a problem. There existed an impassable gap between you and the Father's love.
Sin separated you from God, but God was determined to buy you back. After all, you are the crowning achievement of all that He created and the greatest tragedy of all of eternity was that sin and darkness had stolen you.
The cost was inordinate, but God the Father was willing to pay it.
The Father was willing to pay anything at all to cross that gargantuan gap and to hold you in His arms once again. He knew silver and gold were not enough to buy you back.
He bought you back with blood; he paid the debt in rich, dark-red blood.
The blood that was used as collateral didn't come from a dove, a sheep or a ram.
The blood that God the Father used in the greatest transaction of all eternity came from a lamb. The lamb that God sacrificed to buy you back was His Son.
Not only did grace buy you back, but grace changed your past.
"For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith, in His blood, for a demonstration of His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins previously committed" (Rom. 3:23–25).
Grace has passed over the sins I've committed. My sinful past has been miraculously and instantly erased because of Jesus.
There is no more shame attached to my name. There is no more guilt attached to my identity.
There is only grace. There is only precious blood and extravagant grace!
I am undone!
"My sin—Oh the bliss!—of this glorious thought!/My sin, not the part, but the whole:/Was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more,/It is well! It is well with my soul!"
Grace now treats us as though we already are what we fear we would never become.
However, before you get too excited, there is a challenge to grace. This is no small challenge but a gut-wrenching, knee-shaking, head-dropping, dry-mouth challenge to grace.
Because I have received grace, I must give grace.
Because I have been the beneficiary, I must benefit others.
Because of Jesus, I must be Jesus to others.
I must cross that chasm of frustration, impatience, bitterness and anger and move towards sinful and difficult people with grace.
I must complete the work of grace in my life. There are absolutely no excuses accepted when it comes to grace.
Grace has removed all excuses.
If I have been given it, I must offer it.
I must freely, lavishly, generously, completely, be the bestower of unearned grace.
Grace will enable me to treat others as though they already are the people I thought they could never become.
The power of grace changes my past—my present—and my future.
The work of grace in me reaches out to you.
Grace. Isn't it just too beautiful for words?
Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written five books, including No More Ordinary, Holy Estrogen!, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart and Defiant Joy! Her most recent book, Refined: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Fire, was released last August. Her teaching DVD, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart, won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming. You can also listen to Carol's "A Jolt of Joy" program daily on the Charisma Podcast Network. Connect with Carol or inquire about her speaking to your group at justjoyministries.com.
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