Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace that is greater than all my sin
Julia H. Johnston, 1910, Public Domain
Grace. Almost indescribable. God's grace began with eternal life, given to us with Jesus' resurrection, and He showers grace on us each day through the Holy Spirit who lives within us.
In recent years, I experienced God's grace, even though I was filled with anger and frustration. When we moved from the Houston area to west Texas, I was so angry. I stubbornly refused to be happy. Instead of leaving me in my misery, the Lord used a fantastic retreat, Walk to Eamaus, to restore my joy and to show me the many grace gifts He'd given me in my new home.
God's grace is written all throughout Scripture. We can learn much through the lives of these four men:
Moses Moses' story is told in Exodus. He was the deliverer of God's people from slavery, the Lawgiver on Mount Sinai. God protected his life from the very beginning: As an infant, Moses was set adrift in a basket, rescued by Pharaoh's daughter, and raised to be next on the throne. Then hot-headed Moses killed an Egyptian guard and fled into the desert to live his life as a shepherd.
One day, while out on a mountainside with a herd of sheep, Moses saw a strange, burning bush.
God called Moses to deliver His people from Egypt but Moses didn't seem too eager to go:
Look at me! I can't go to Pharaoh!
What if the people ask me your name? What will I tell them?
What if they don't believe me?
But I've got a speech problem! Send someone else.
God could have left Moses with his sheep and found someone else more willing. But He chose to shower Moses with grace. He patiently answered Moses' questions and used him to deliver His people from slavery in Egypt.
Talk about stubborn! Sounds just like me. After I was laid off as an engineer at Johnson Space Center, God began to whisper to me about writing a Bible study. I had a list of excuses as long as my arm. When I did begin to write, I still resisted the idea. In His grace, God allowed my writing to win two key awards at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. My study, Storms of Life, is a testimony to God's grace.
Even in our stubbornness, God doesn't quit. We can't out-stubborn Him! He knew us before we were born and assigned the works we are to do in His name (Ephesians 2:10). He will deal with us in love and grace, waiting until we come to Him and surrender our lives to His purposes.
Grace that is greater than all our stubbornness!
Elijah Even today, Elijah is one of Israel's most revered prophets. He was strong in his faith and stood up before the most evil Israeli kings, like Ahab and his wife, Jezebel. In 1Kings 18-19, the Lord used Elijah to embarrass 450 pagan priests and to prove that there was only one true Lord. As you can imagine, Ahab and Jezebel were furious and vowed to kill him.
God could have left Elijah to tremble in the cave. But He chose to shower him with grace. He revealed Himself to Elijah by passing in front of the cave and He restored Elijah's courage.
I have certainly cowered in fear. Many years ago, my family endured a horrible crisis. I prayed for deliverance continuously and I was terrified as things seemed to spiral downward. Even though God didn't choose to deliver us, He revealed Himself to us through His Word and through believers around us.
Fear, anger, or loneliness are crippling emotions. The enemy tries to defeat us and to cause us to cower in hiding. But God never leaves us there. As our loving Father, He comes to bring us back to our feet. We are never alone. We never have to fear. He assures us of His presence and His power.
Grace that is greater than all our fears!
Peter Peter, the impetuous disciple, the one who often said or did something he shouldn't have. But he was the first to recognize that Jesus was the source of eternal life (John 6:68).
Jesus could have expelled him from His circle of disciples but, instead, He chose to shower Peter with grace.
After His resurrection, Jesus met Peter and some other disciples on the shore at the Sea of Tiberius. There He gave Peter three opportunities to declare his love for Him. All three times, Peter said, "You know that I love you." (John 21). Jesus cleared Peter's conscience and strengthened him. A few weeks later, Peter proclaimed the gospel with such power that 4000 people believed in Jesus.
That is always a result of disobedience: it denies Jesus. Sometimes, our actions deny our faith. Even though we might fail Him, He never turns away. He restores us and gives us opportunities to serve Him and to show our love for Him.
Grace that is greater than all our disobedience!
Paul Paul was the Lord's missionary to the Gentiles - those who were not Jewish. He brought the gospel of Jesus to all of Asia and into Europe. Before this, though, he was a member of the Jewish elite, educated in Jewish beliefs by the best tutors in Jerusalem. He knew all of the prophesies about the Messiah, but He chose to rebel against the truth. He made it his mission to capture and imprison or execute as many Christians as possible. He rejected Jesus, even though he heard and saw the faith of the hundreds he persecuted.
God could have ensured that Paul was killed. He could have judged Paul and found him guilty. But He chose to shower Paul with grace.
On a trip to Damascus, Jesus met Paul on the road and transformed him from a murderer to a powerful witness for Christ (Acts 9).
Like Paul, we were in rebellion. Perhaps we'd heard of God's mercy and grace, but we refused to believe the truth. God pursued us and drew us into His love. Now we are His children, showered with His grace gifts.
Grace that is greater than all our rebellion!
Even as believers, we are in need of God's grace. We aren't always obedient but we are always loved. We aren't always strong but we are always filled with God's strength. We don't always listen but He never ceases to speak to us. We can never overwhelm God's Grace.
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (Emphasis mine)