God's Overwhelming Grace
Today, I want to talk about God’s overwhelming grace. In the New Testament, the word grace comes from the Greek word, charis. One definition is graciousness of manner or act, especially the divine upon the heart. Another is a showing of kindness, a favour done without expectation of return, an act of mercy. The definition I like the best is God the Father’s overwhelming desire to treat me as though sin had never occurred.
Jesus was endowed with God’s grace. Luke 2:40 says that, “the child grew more powerful in grace, for he was being filled with wisdom, and the favor of God was upon him.” (TPT)
Jesus entered His earthly ministry with grace. In John 1:14 we read that, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (MEV)
Grace flowed through Jesus to all of us. John 1:17, “For the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (NIV)
We are saved by grace. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one should boast.” Ephesians 2:8, MEV.
Grace enabled the apostles to perform many signs and wonders among the people (Acts 5:12). It provided the supernatural power to make things happen. “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all.” (Acts 4:33 NIV)
One more wonderful aspect of grace before I close. Through God’s abundant provision of grace and the gift of righteousness, we reign in life through Christ! I love Romans 5:17 in The Passion Translation: “But now, how much more are we held in the grip of grace and continue reigning as kings in life, enjoying our regal freedom through the gift of perfect righteousness in the one and only Jesus, the Messiah!”
So today, believers in the Lord Jesus, be held in the grip of God’s grace and reign as kings (and queens) in life, enjoying your regal freedom in the perfect righteousness of Jesus. Can we ask for anything better? The answer is a resounding NO!
I write Christian romance novels and have been blessed to work with an excellent editor. Today, I’d like to share some of the things she’s taught me. Although they are basic, it never hurts to be reminded of them.
That’s it for now. It never hurts to be reminded of what keeps our writing sharp, clear and compelling.
Seventy Times Seven - Prologue
For my first "The Joy of Writing" blog post, I want to share with you the Prologue for "Seventy Times Seven". Of course, the purpose in doing this is to make you want to read the whole book. Here it is.
The air was unusually still - almost stifling. The breeze off the ocean had disappeared. Stray dogs barked incessantly. The vendors' stalls stood vacant. Dark clouds blocked out the sun, casting grey shadows across the pavement.
One of the stray dogs followed on her heels, stalking her. An ugly thing, its bones protruded with each movement and patches of skin showed through its mangy brown and white fur. Jaundiced eyes glowed like burning sulfur.
"Go away," she said sternly.
It kept following.
She picked up a stick and threw it down the street. "Fetch," she hissed.
It snarled with a low, deep growl.
Stopping, she bent down and tried another tactic, "Nice dog, nice dog," she said, reaching her hand toward the creature.
With slow, deliberate steps it began to circle her. Round and round it went, making it difficult to proceed further.
"Help me!" she sobbed loudly, tears streaming down her face.
No one heard and no one responded.
The dog began circling faster
I must make my move now, she realized. Nearly tripping over the animal, she ran down the street, her legs wobbling. The dog's breath, like fire, burned her calves.
"Leave me alone!" she screamed as she raced up the walkway to her home. Her foot hit something hard and she plummeted to the ground. The dog's fangs bit into her flesh as it dragged her body like a rag doll. Blood gushed everywhere. She tried to get up but the animal knocked her down. Struggling, she thrust at the scruffy body with every ounce of strength she possessed.
Our Abundant God
Our God is an abundant God. We don’t serve One who is stingy. To prove my point, consider the account of Joseph in the Old Testament.
There was a severe famine in the land of Israel. Joseph’s brothers went down to Egypt to purchase food. The Governor of the land, who they did not recognize as their brother, Joseph, who they had sold into slavery years before, told them not to return for more food unless they brought their youngest brother, Benjamin.
The brothers’ father, Jacob was heartbroken when he heard the Governor’s decree and would not let his boys return to Egypt. Jacob had lost his favored son, Joseph and he did not want to lose Benjamin, Joseph’s full brother.
However, necessity won out. The food brought back from Egypt the first time was gone. Without food, everyone would die. So finally, with much angst, Jacob allowed Benjamin to return to Egypt with his brothers.
Genesis 43:11 says that, “Jacob sent down a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds.” He wanted to appease the Governor. Notice that it says a little – probably all he had.
But what came back to Jacob?
Genesis 45:23 says that Joseph sent to his father “ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt…with grain and bread and provisions…” When Jacob “saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him…(he) revived” (verse 27).
In Jacob’s day, no one had wagons or carts. You travelled by loading your donkey and walking beside it. The carts were from the Pharaoh of Egypt. They probably had Pharaoh’s insignia on them. I’m sure the eyes of Jacob’s neighbors bulged when his sons drove in the driveway.
The brothers had left with shepherd’s clothing. They returned with the latest designer apparel from Egypt.
Our God is an abundant God. I read an article about Dallas Theological Seminary. At one point in its early history, it was on the point of bankruptcy. The bank was coming to call the loan.
A group of board members were praying about the situation. Harry Ironside, pastor of Moody Church in Chicago from 1929 to 1948, was among the group and he prayed, “Father, You own the cattle on a thousand hills. You know our need. Please sell some cattle.”
At that point, a rancher was outside in the reception area, speaking to the receptionist. He told her that he had just sold cattle up in Fort Worth and felt that the Lord wanted him to give the money from the sale to Dallas Theological Seminary. The rancher handed the receptionist a check.
The receptionist took the check into the men who were praying. The amount of the check was the exact amount needed to pay off the loan. One of the men said to Harry Ironside, “it looks like God just sold some cattle, Harry.”
Our God is an abundant God. “You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 The Message). Dare to believe His promises. Don’t throw away your confidence. Hebrews 10:35 says that “…it will be richly rewarded.”
Sow a Radical Seed
Rain in the Bible is symbolic of God’s blessing.
Ezekiel 34: 26-27 says, “I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. The trees of the field will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops…”
And Psalm 68: 7-9 says, “When You went out before your people, O God…the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain, before…the God of Israel. You gave abundant showers, O God; you refreshed Your weary inheritance.”
One story in the Bible about rain is the account of Elijah the Tishbite in 1 Kings chapter 17. In verse one it says, “Now Elijah the Tishbite…said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”
Elijah said these words to king Ahab because Ahab and his father’s family had abandoned the Lord’s commands and followed the Baals, false gods.
God commanded Elijah to hide in the Kerith ravine east of the Jordon River. God ordered the ravens to bring Elijah bread and meat in the morning and evening and Elijah drank from the brook.
All was well until the brook dried up from lack of rain. God told Elijah to go to a widow who lived in Zarephath, who God had commanded to supply Elijah with food.
When Elijah arrived in Zarephath, he asked the widow for a little water in a jar. Remember, it hadn’t rained in the land; water was scarce. As she went to get it, she heard the prophet ask for a piece of bread as well.
The widow’s response was blunt. “I only have a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug.” She told him that she was gathering sticks to go home and make the last meal for her and her son before they died. I’d say she was in dire circumstances.
Elijah was even more audacious. He asked her to FIRST make a small cake of bread for him and then make something for her son and herself.
What would you have done?
But then Elijah spoke a message from God to the woman. He told her not to be afraid and that the jar of flour would not be used up and the jug of oil wouldn’t run dry until the day the Lord provided rain.
The widow had a choice, didn’t she? She could believe and obey the word of the Lord through the prophet or she could look after her own needs first.
What would you have done?
The widow of Zarephath decided to obey the word of God and to sew a radical seed. To sew a radical seed is to obey God, even when it’s hard. And the result? She received a radical blessing. As God had said, there was food everyday for Elijah, the woman and her family. The jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry. She lived a miracle – as if there was an abundance of rain in the land.
Lord, help me today to sew radical seeds, no matter how difficult, knowing that You are always faithful to Your word and Your promises.
In this Blog, I want to share with you some of the things I've learned from many years of following Jesus.